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Internal Market

1. A vision for the single market of the 21st century

In early 2007 the European Commission presented its vision of the future of the EU’s internal market. Commission President Jose’ Manuel Barroso said:

”The single market is the core of Europe’s endeavour. For citizens, it means the right to live and work in another EU country, and to access a wider choice of quality products and services at lower prices. For business, it means operating on a domestic market of 500 million people, based on the rule of law, with mutual respect and trust. The single market is more important than ever. I now want to see it strengthened and adapted to the globalised world of the 21st Century”.

The foundation of the “Common Market” was laid in 1957, when the Treaty of Rome created the European Economic Community (EEC). It has since been one of the European Union’s key policy areas – one that took an important step forward, when the Commission launched its single market initiative in 1985. At the core of the policy are the “four freedoms” – free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

According to the Commission’s calculations, from 1993 to 2003 the single market created at least 2,5 million extra jobs and generated close to €900 billion in extra wealth.

Fifty years on from its inception, the Commission is shifting the focus of the single market from the removal of cross-border trade barriers to ensuring that markets function better, to the benefits of citizens, consumers and entrepreneurs. This should be done “with a view to promoting a competitive business environment, which respects consumer choice and is socially and environmentally responsible”. The Commission also wants improved assessment of the social impact of further integration and of the opening of sectors to competition.

Many European citizens have raised concerns about the perceived disruptive impacts of globalization. In the Commission’s view, it is a matter of social justice to anticipate and accompany change for the people and sectors directly affected by the opening market. In fact, the EU’s so-called Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was introduced in 2005 to respond to these concerns, particularly in France, and to help workers made redundant as a result of trade liberalization. It will pay out up to €500 million per year in financial support to help these people find new jobs.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and Businesseurope, the EU’s employers’ organization, have both welcomed the European Commission’s new vision for the single market of the 21st century.

However, much remains to be done for the completion of the internal market. In some sensitive areas, particularly health, financial services and network industries such as energy, perfecting EU market integration will still take time.

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