Identifying and addressing barriers to the Single Market

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2020) 93
Publication Date 10/03/2020
Content Type ,


Communication published on 10 March 2020 by the European Commission, reporting on a range of obstacles in the European Union's single market from the perspective of its businesses and consumers.

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The European Commission presented in June 1985 a White Paper on the completion of the single market, arguing for further integration by fulfilling the ambitions of the Treaty of Rome instead of stalling into no more than a free trade area. The European Union chose the former, which resulted in the world's largest single market. By virtue of its scale and integration, the single market boosted the standing and influence of the EU in the world.

Despite the acoomplishments of the single market, businesses and consumers still report a series of hurdles. This Communication takes their experiences and perceptions as a starting point for identifying the key remaining barriers along the steps of their respective 'journeys' towards cross-border activities. The Communication identifies five main root causes for these barriers: regulatory choices at EU and national level, transposition, implementation and enforcement of legislation, administrative capacity and practices in the Member States, general business and consumer environment and root causes not linked to public policy such as language and culture. Among those, difficulties related to the general business and consumer environment are important since they affect domestic users and those from other Member States equally.

The European Council called in March 2019 for the removal of the remaining unjustified obstacles to the single market, while stressing that no new barriers should be created. This Communication is part of an Industry Policy Package led by a Communication on a 'New Industrial Strategy for Europe'. One key area of action - enforcement - is address by an Enforcement Action Plan published alongside this document.

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EUR-Lex: SWD(2020)54: Business Journey on the Single Market: Practical Obstacles and Barriers [Staff Working Document accompanying the Communication]
European Commission: Press Release, 10/03/2020: Making Europe's businesses future-ready: A new Industrial Strategy for a globally competitive, green and digital Europe
European Commission: Questions & Answers: European Industrial Strategy Package (10 March 2020)

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