The EU’s Internal Market Information System (IMI)
Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System
It lays down rules on the use of the Internal Market Information (IMI) system for administrative cooperation including the processing and exchange of personal data of EU citizens between EU countries’ competent authorities and the European Commission.
The IMI system is a secure Internet application that allows national, regional and local authorities to communicate quickly and easily with their counterparts in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway about EU internal market law (i.e. the laws relating to the single market that exists between the EU countries and in which the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons is assured, and where citizens are free to live, work, study and do business).
It helps these authorities to overcome practical difficulties related in particular to differences in administrative culture, the use of different languages and the identification of partners in other EU countries.
It is a free public service, developed by the Commission available in all EU languages and running since 2008.
Major benefits for the public
By speeding up procedures and improving the communication between public authorities, IMI reduces costs caused by delays and enables authorities to provide a better service to citizens and businesses. As such, IMI is a tool that indirectly helps citizens and businesses to make the most of the opportunities offered by the EU’s internal market.
Areas where the IMI is used
Two examples of directives for which the IMI is used are the Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications (2005/36/EC) and the Services Directive (2006/123/EC).
Under professional qualifications, the IMI system can be used by an EU country to check the validity of qualifications for professionals wanting to practise in that country.
In addition to professional qualifications and services, the following are examples of other areas covered by the IMI:
Solvit (to which individuals and businesses can submit complaints about national authorities) and
e-commerce; here the IMI system can be used, for example, to ask another country to prohibit the sale of illegal goods online.
Thanks to its flexibility, the system can easily be expanded to new areas.
IMI offers the following main functions:
bilateral information exchanges: (one-to-one workflow) secure exchanges of information between two competent authorities;
multilateral information exchanges: (one-to-many workflows) allowing authorities to send out information to multiple recipients;
repositories: searchable multilingual databases to share information among IMI actors;
SOLVIT case handling: workflow to support the resolution of complaints from citizens and businesses concerning the application of EU law by public authorities;
a public interface, allowing external actors to interact with IMI. This service will be used in the context of the European professional card introduced by Directive 2013/55/EU, as of 18 January 2016.
A list of areas in which IMI is used is available online.
In 2014, Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 was amended twice to enable IMI to be used for information concerning:
the posting of workers providing services (Directive 2014/67/EU) and
on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of an EU country (Directive 2014/60/EU).
Application and Background
It applies from 4 December 2012.
Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System and repealing Commission Decision 2008/49/EC (‘the IMI Regulation’) (OJ L 316, 14.11.2012, pp. 1–11)
The successive amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Single Market Programme
Regulation (EU) 2021/690 establishing a programme for the internal market, competitiveness, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the area of plants, animals, food and feed, and European statistics (Single Market Programme)
It sets out the aims, budget, governance and funding rules of the first integrated single internal market programme. This brings together activities previously financed under 6 separate programmes. It runs from 2021 to 2027.
The programme’s general aims are to:
improve the functioning of the internal market, notably to protect and empower the public, consumers and businesses, especially SMEs, by
enforcing EU law, facilitating market access and setting standards
promoting human, animal and plant health and animal welfare
respecting sustainable development and ensuring a high level of consumer protection
enhancing cooperation between national authorities, the European Commission and decentralised EU agencies;
develop, produce and disseminate high-quality, comparable, timely and reliable European statistics to
underpin the design, monitoring and evaluation of EU policies
assist the public, policymakers, authorities, businesses, academia and the media to make informed decisions
help the above groups to participate actively in the democratic process.
These overall aims are achieved through the following specific objectives:
making the internal market more effective, especially with digital transformation, preventing and removing illegal obstacles (€452 million over the 7-year period) and ensuring only safe and compliant products may be offered for sale;
strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of SMEs, including various forms of support, promoting new business opportunities and developing industrial value chains (€1 billion);
ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market through high-quality European and international standards (€221 million);
promoting consumer interests and a high level of consumer protection and product safety, including in financial services (€200 million);
contributing to a high level of health and safety for humans, animals and plants throughout the food chain, including eradicating animal diseases and plant pests, fighting antimicrobial resistance and developing sustainable food production and consumption (€1.7 billion);
developing, producing, disseminating and communicating high-quality European statistics (€552 million).
The 7-year budget to implement the programme is €4,208,041,000 (current prices). Up to 5% of the budget may be used for various technical and administrative purposes, such as preparation, monitoring, control, audit, evaluation and use of information technology networks.
Non-EU countries may take part in the programme subject to certain conditions. These include the right of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to carry out investigations, including on-the-spot checks and inspections, to protect the EU’s finances.
Article 8 and Annexes I (plant, animal, food and feed) and II (European statistics) set out the many activities eligible for funding under the programme’s general and specific objectives.
Legal entities are eligible for funding if they are:
based in an EU Member State or a linked overseas country or territory, or in a non-EU country associated with the programme;
created under EU law or are an international organisation;
based in a non-EU country not associated with the programme, but their activities are in line with its objectives.
Article 10 sets out the entities which may receive a grant without a call for proposals. They range from national market surveillance authorities to the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group and the Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs.
Co-financing rules state that:
in certain circumstances the programme may cover up to 100% of eligible costs. Elsewhere, the range is between 50% and 95%;
activities may receive finance from the single market programme and other EU funds provided the contributions do not cover the same costs.
sets out work programmes by 30 April for the following year;
monitors and reports on the programme’s progress towards meeting its specific objectives, using indicators in Annex IV;
prepares an annual report for the European Parliament and the Council on the activity of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation;
provides an interim evaluation of the programme no later than 4 years after its start and a final evaluation at the time of its completion;
presents the 2 evaluations to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions and makes them publicly available;
consults the European Statistical System Committee and the European Statistical Advisory Committee when preparing the evaluations;
implements user-friendly information and communication activities to raise awareness among the public, businesses and public administrations about finance available under the programme;
may adopt various implementing and delegated acts.
The legislation repeals Regulations (EU) No 99/2013, (EU) No 1287/2013, (EU) No 254/2014 and (EU) No 652/2014 from 31 December 2020.
Application & Background
It has applied since 1 January 2021.
The single market is the backbone of the EU economy. It contributes to growth, competitiveness and jobs, while bringing consumers greater choice and lower prices.
The programme aims to enable the public, consumers, businesses and public authorities throughout the EU to take full advantage of the opportunities on offer.
For more information, see:
Single Market Programme (European Commission);
The first-ever financial programme to boost the Single Market is ready to kick-off — press release (European Commission);
The single market over 2021-2027 — factsheet (European Commission).
Legal entity: an individual, company or organisation that has legal rights and obligations.
Regulation (EU) 2021/690 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 April 2021 establishing a programme for the internal market, competitiveness of enterprises, including small and medium-sized enterprises, the area of plants, animals, food and feed, and European statistics (Single Market Programme) and repealing Regulations (EU) No 99/2013, (EU) No 1287/2013, (EU) No 254/2014 and (EU) No 652/2014 (OJ L 153, 3.5.2021, pp. 1-47)
The principles governing SOLVIT
, the problem-solving network for citizens and business
The SOLVIT network seeks to find solutions to complaints from EU citizens and businesses who suspect their EU rights have been breached by a public authority.
Commission Recommendation 2013/461/EU of 17 September 2013 on the principles governing SOLVIT. OJ L 249 of 19.9.2013.
The Commission recommendation sets out the rules for cooperation between the SOLVIT centres.
All EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have created a national SOLVIT centre, in most cases within their prime minister’s office or ministry of foreign or economic affairs.
These centres cooperate directly via an online database to solve problems submitted by citizens and businesses pragmatically and within 10 weeks. The Commission is responsible for facilitating and coordinating the SOLVIT network.
The service is free of charge and the solutions are not binding as it is an informal network.
For SOLVIT to intervene there needs to be:
a breach of EU law,
by a public authority,
in a cross-border situation.
The applicant should not have started formal proceedings, as then it is no longer possible to find an informal solution to the problem.
SOLVIT deals with problems in areas such as social security, residence rights, free movement of services and goods, recognition of professional qualifications, taxation and vehicle registration.
The following is a brief summary of some examples of the services that the recommendation suggests that SOLVIT centres should offer (NB: readers wanting a full understanding of the principles should read the full recommendation).
SOLVIT centres should be available by telephone or e-mail and should reply promptly to queries.
Applicants should receive a first reaction to their problem within 1 week.
Within 1 month of a first assessment and provided their file is complete, applicants should receive a confirmation of whether their case has been opened as a SOLVIT case.
When a problem cannot be taken up as a SOLVIT case, applicants should be given reasons and advised of another possible course of action that might help them overcome the problem.
Within 10 weeks from the date of opening of the case, the applicant should receive a solution to his/her problem, which may include a clarification of the relevant EU law.
Visibility of the SOLVIT network
The recommendation suggests that EU countries should ensure that user-friendly information and easy access to the SOLVIT services is available, in particular on all relevant websites of the public administration. It also urges EU countries to carry out activities to raise awareness about SOLVIT.
Entry into force
Deadline for transposition in the Member States
OJ L 249 of 19.9.2013