08 Jul 2022

Single Market: New measures to anticipate times of crises, but disruptions persist

The 1st of January next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the European Single Market. As EUROPEN prepares to celebrate this important milestone, we also remain alert to divergent measures adopted by different EU Member States that have the potential to fragment the Internal Market.

From unilateral packaging bans and reuse targets, to conflicting packaging labelling requirements, we continue to witness a scattered regulatory environment, which undermines the Single Market principles.

This is why EUROPEN - together with sixty other organisations from the packaging value chain – issued a joint letter in May calling on the European Commission to create one single European circular economy, underpinned by a strong and integrated Single Market.

Zoom in: Single Market Emergency Instrument

Over the past few years, the integrity of the European Internal Market has also been put at strain by a series of crises that have harshly hit the European continent. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted global markets, creating obstacles to the distribution and availability of goods across the entire EU. Although not even remotely comparable with the tragedy caused by the loss of human lives, the conflict in Ukraine has also resulted in important impacts on the supply of raw materials.

To better respond to such crises, the European Commission published in April a new initiative on a Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI). The Instrument aims to put in place a flexible and transparent mechanism to respond quickly to emergencies and crises that threaten the functioning of the Single Market, while also ensuring complementarity with existing and new EU crises response mechanisms established at EU level.

Building upon a “crises preparedness and response” pillar, the instrument should ensure that adequate information, coordination and communication mechanisms are established between EU institutions, Member States and stakeholders to prevent strategic disruptions and prepare for crises before they arise. In addition, it should safeguard the resilience of the Single Market, securing the availability of products and services, as well as the free circulation of goods, services and persons in times of crises.

As part of its response to the public consultation on the SMEI, EUROPEN asked to the European Commission to recognise packaging and its raw materials as an essential value chain and to ensure that measures to anticipate, better communicate on, coordinate and manage emergencies are foreseen for the packaging supply chain in times of emergency.


  • Focus on draft Spanish Royal Decree

On 6 May, Spain notified to the European Commission its draft Royal Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste. In a very comprehensive legislative proposal, the draft Decree sets out measures on packaging waste reduction, targets on packaging reuse, mandatory plastic recycled content targets, a ban on the packaging for fruits and vegetables in retail stores (with possible exemptions for fruits and vegetables at risk of deterioration), as well as packaging marking obligations.

At this stage, and until the 8 August 2022, the draft Decree is subject to the so-called “standstill period”, a period of time during which the draft text cannot be adopted as it is open to possible comments and observations from the European Commission, the EU Member States and other stakeholders via the TRIS (Technical Regulation Information System) notification platform. If the European Commission or a Member State submit a detailed opinion on the draft, this timeframe will be extended by three months.

EUROPEN and various associations from the packaging supply chain have submitted a contribution on the text via the TRIS portal explaining why, if adopted, the Decree would create Internal Market barriers.


  • 13 September 2022: Adoption of the European Commission proposal for a Single Market Emergency Instrument.