This year, the EU celebrates the 30th anniversary of its single market – one of the most outstanding achievements of European integration and one of its most important driving forces. Created on January 1, 1993, the European Single Market enables the free movement of goods, services, people, and capital within the EU, making life easier for people and opening up new business opportunities.
Crucial role in Europe’s economic development
Over the past 30 years, the Single Market has led to unprecedented market integration between Member States’ economies, serving as an engine for growth and competitiveness and underpinning Europe’s economic and political power on a global scale. It has also played a key role in accelerating the economic development of the new Member States that have joined the EU by removing barriers to market entry and boosting growth.
Most recently, the Single Market has been instrumental in helping Europe cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy crisis resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Preserving and strengthening the integrity of the Single Market will continue to be critical in the future to enable Europe to respond to new challenges in a coordinated manner and to further promote the competitiveness of European economies.
Thanks to the Single Market, the EU has succeeded in improving the lives of all Europeans, including:
- Accelerating the transition to a greener and more digital economy: The European Green Deal is the EU’s growth strategy. Based on the EU proposals “Fit for 55” and “Digital Decade”, the EU is creating a legal framework to support Europe’s green and digital transformation. The industrial strategy accompanies the EU industry through these transitions. The single market also helps ensure the continued availability of essential inputs for our businesses, including critical raw materials and advanced technologies such as semiconductors.
- Providing a high level of safety and world-leading technological standards: Thanks to EU legislation, consumers can be confident that all products on the internal market are safe and meet high standards for protecting the environment, labour, personal data and human rights. These rules and standards are often adopted worldwide, giving European companies a competitive advantage and boosting Europe’s standing while fostering a race to the best standards. Today, the EU is a global standard setter.
- Responding to recent crises with unprecedented speed and determination: Dealing with contemporary problems, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the current energy crisis, requires a joint and coordinated European response. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was possible to keep internal borders open and ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market so that vaccines, medical supplies, and other essential materials could reach those in need. Today, Europe’s response to the energy crisis is based on the REPowerEU plan, which relies on the power of the internal market to enable the EU to jointly procure diversified energy sources and significantly accelerate the development and deployment of clean and renewable energy. This has already led to a reduction in the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
Cooperation in Europe is essential
To ensure that the Single Market remains a common good that benefits everyone in the EU, the Commission is continuously working to develop it in new areas and to ensure that the rules already in place work in practice. To this end, the Commission works closely with Member State authorities, who share responsibility for effectively enforcing Single Market rules.
The EU project must continue to be promoted
In December 2022, to kick off the series of events celebrating 30 years of the Single Market, the Commission presented an analysis paper on the state of the Single Market 30 years after its creation and its role as a driver of EU resilience. Throughout 2023, numerous debates, exhibitions, and campaigns will be organized with stakeholders across the EU to promote the achievements of the Single Market and engage citizens in discussions about its future. In this context, the Commission will issue a communication highlighting the significant accomplishments and benefits of the Single Market and identify implementation gaps and future priorities to ensure that the Single Market continues to play a crucial role.
“The Single Market is much more than just a legal framework or a market. We need to continuously preserve, improve and re-invent this formidable asset by ensuring that the agreed-upon rules are also applied collectively. Second, by putting SMEs at the centre of Europe’s competitiveness. Third, by ensuring that people and businesses have access to the goods and services they need when they need them. The Single Market gave the European Union a continental scale and, therefore, the capacity to project itself onto the global stage. Today, in its 30th anniversary, the Single Market gives me confidence and determination to face the challenges ahead,” says Thierry Breton, EU-Commissioner for Internal Market and Services – 02/01/2023