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Theoretical and Applied Economics
No. 5 / 2014 (594)

Single market fragmentation. The influence of the public decision system’s features upon the national decision system: A case study of the Romanian Eco-duty

Lucica MATEI
National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest
Teodora I. DINU
National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest

Abstract. The concern for improving the functioning of the single market pertains both to the European decision authorities and to those of the Member States of the European Union. If we take into account the specificities of the European space development (Nedergaard, 2007, Matei and Matei, 2012) in understanding the single market building, as the effect of both the enlargement and the institutional evolution of the EU, of the public management practices and their specific legislation (European institutions), we believe that the integrated political approach of the single market is the fundamental condition of its existence. In support of those assertions we underline:

1) The specificity of the European decision-making system, the existence of three levels of decision – supra-systemic, systemic and under-systemic built under the European Treaties.

2) The distribution of powers between the European and national level, of the Member States based on the principles of action.

3) The European Regulatory Policy.

4) The convergence of the economic policies and the long term social impact, highlighting the involvement of the relevant actors in the single market.

The improvement of the single market functioning by removing the administrative obstacles that restrict the exercise of one or more of the four fundamental freedoms of the EU, is the European priority and is found in the documents such as Europe 2020, COM(2012) 756/14.12.2012, COM(2012)164/4.4.2012.

The problem regarding the movement of goods and citizens pertaining to the existence of barriers affecting the cross-border activities, despite of the single market shall be analyzed in relation to the problem of vehicles pollution. The pollution is on the priority list of the European Union (Treaty establishing the European Community (Art. 174/130r – EC Treaty establishing the polluter pays principle (PPP)).

Therefore, the European Union is entitled to adopt measures under Article 114 TFEU in order to ensure the proper functioning of the single market for vehicles.

The multilevel governance system of climate policy presents both opportunities and challenges for policy makers […] the capacity of decision makers operating at any one level can be enhanced or (more frequently) constrained by the policies at other levels (National Research Council, 2010: 318), e.g. the case of the Romanian taxregister (Dinu, 2011: pp. 25-39). The same problem pertaining to the subsidiarity and the environment is underlined by Pelkmans (2003: p. 53) namely whether competencies should be assigned on the European Union’s level with regard to following a certain environmental policy. Pelkmans best emphasises the core of the problem in the case of the trans-frontiers negative externalities (most of them are from the environmental field): should the European Union have an exclusive competence considering the fact that the EU countries have different national characteristics? It would probably not happen mainly because at least a part of the environmental problems are local, regional or national, and their differences are best considered on those administrative levels.

The paper refers to whether there is a correspondence between the procedural part of the decision-making (correlating the national and the European level) and the formal part consisting in a formula that weights the elements that the research finds important. In the paper the pollution issue is analyzed from the perspective of vehicles EU market fragmentation caused by the different implementation by the Member States of the taxes specific car-duties, as a result of the particular decision-making procedure. The duties and taxes are not harmonized at EU level, the Member States being free to exercise their tax powers on vehicles in accordance with the EU legislation. The lack of harmonization triggers such a “technical” fragmentation of the single market.

Romania does not have a broad experience in this area (as it is also a New Member State) or if it has it is one that has confirmed our lack of expertise (e.g. the case of the eco-duty) – e.g. the formula establishing the method of calculus for the eco-duty has led to its suspension in the past for reason of conflict between decision level and stakeholders (Dinu, 2011: pp. 25-39), as it does not take into account both the contextual variables and the technical indicators.

This paper focuses on testing this research question by going in-depth of the public decisions on which the eco-duty is based. There are several stakeholders involved, which only strengthens our hypothesis according to which not only the national and European level authorities craft the eco-duty, but also the bargaining power of duty payers versus car producers/dealers and the representing state authorities (Ministry of Environment and Climate Changes, Ministry of Public Finances) may have a strong impact upon the eco-duty design.

Keywords: single market, public decision, regulation.

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