The European Single Market: 30 years of four “basic freedoms”

The EU member states are celebrating the 30th anniversary of its Single Market (SM) as one of the major achievements of the European integration. During over three decades, the SM – by establishing “four basic freedoms” – i.e. through free movement of goods, services, people and capital among the member states – has made life easier for people with better opportunities for businesses in goods and services.

Over three decades, the European Single Market, SM has led to an unprecedented market integration among the EU member states’ economies, serving both as a driver for EU-wide growth and European global economic and political power.
The SM played a key role in accelerating the socio-economic development of the states that joined the EU, particularly the enlargement from EU-15 to EU-25 in the beginning of this century (2005) removing barriers to integration and boosting growth.
Recently, the SM has been “tested” during Covid-pandemic: it was essential in helping citizens in Europe to overcome illnesses, as well as present energy crisis resulting from Russia-Ukraine military conflict and other challenges.
Thus, preserving and strengthening the SM’s integrity will remain essential for the European perspective integration, for responding to global crises and for supporting the competitiveness of the member states’ socio-economic development.
More about the SM’s benefits and future challenges in: https://single-market-economy.ec.europa.eu/single-market/30th-anniversary_en

The Single Market’s story is rather short: it was established on 1 January 1993, following the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in February 1992. Initially, 12 EU countries made up the Single Market: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
Presently, the EU single market comprises 27 EU member states; some other European states are having special and partial access to SM, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary makes the Europeans understand the SM’s positive impacts, although there are still some aspects of it that the states have to work on, specifically that of the capital market.

Single Market’s achievements
It is well-worth to name at least some of most vital SM’s achievements:
= Accelerating the transition to a greener and more digital economy: The European Green Deal is part of the European growth strategy: based on the EU’s “fit-for-55” and the Digital Decade’s strategies, the member states are adopting regulatory framework to facilitate their green and digital transitions. Besides, the EU industrial strategy is accompanying the member states’ growth patterns and industrial sectors. The Single Market also helps to ensure the continued availability of essential inputs for businesses in the member states, including such issues as supply of critical raw materials, advanced technologies and semiconductors, etc.
= Guaranteeing high safety and leading global technological standards: the EU legislation allows consumers to trust that all products on the Single Market are safe and based on high standards of environmental, labour, personal data and human rights protection. These rules and standards have been often emulated around the world, giving the Europe’s businesses a competitive edge and boosting Europe’s global position, while encouraging a race to the top in terms of high standards in goods and services; thus, the EU has become a global standards-setter.
= Responding to recent crises with unprecedented speed and determination: e.g. addressing recent covid-pandemic and the current energy crisis relies on a common and coordinated EU-wide approaches. Thus, during the pandemic, internal borders within the EU were open to ensure smooth SM functioning to allow vaccines, medical equipment and other critical materials to reach those in need. Presently, the European response to the energy crisis is based on the REPowerEU plan, which is based, e.g. on a joint procurement of more diversified energy sources and significant acceleration of development of clean and renewable energy sources; the approaches that already resulted in reducing the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_7897

= Single market is vital for citizens and businesses: it gives people the chance to travel and work in the EU-27 states and allows goods, services and capital to move around almost as freely as within a single country. This has become an integral part of the European corporate life by creating opportunities for more choices of products and services for consumers all around the EU. That’s why consumers can trust that the products and services they buy across the EU are safe and meet high quality requirements, and that companies respect rules on labour security and environmental protection. Finally, the single market also helps to project these high standards and values globally.
More in: https://single-market-economy.ec.europa.eu/single-market/30th-anniversary_en

It has to be underlined in the conclusion, that to ensure that the Single Market remains a common good that delivers for all people in the EU, the Commission continuously works on its development in new areas and ensures that the adopted rules are properly implemented. In this regard, the Commission works closely with the member states’ governance bodies through a “shared responsibility” for the effective enforcement of Single Market rules.
In December 2022, during the kick-off of the series of events to mark the 30th anniversary of the Single Market, the Commission presented an analytical paper on the state of the Single Market 30 years after its establishment and its role as a driver of EU resilience.
In the course of 2023, there will be numerous debates, exhibitions and campaigns co-organised with stakeholders across the EU to promote the successes of the Single Market and engage citizens in discussing its future. In this context, the Commission will issue a Communication showcasing the significant achievements and benefits of the Single Market, while also identifying implementation gaps and future priorities for the Single Market to continue to play a key role in the European integration.

More information in the following Commission’s web-links: = 30th anniversary of the Single Market; = Factsheet; and = Collection of videos on the Single Market.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × five =