Members' Research Service By / June 9, 2023

The single market at 30 (1993-2023)

In June 1985, the Commission published a white paper on the completion of the internal market, setting out a timetable for the measures required for the completion of the single market.

© TTstudio / Adobe Stock

Written by Guillaume Ragonnaud.

The EU has the world’s largest single market. Home to 345 million people when it was launched in 1993, it now numbers 447 million consumers and 23 million companies, and covers a considerable range of policy areas. This year, the single market is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

While the single market generates many jobs and considerable economic benefits, many hurdles remain. In March 2020, the Commission identified the top 13 barriers to cross-border activity (such as red tape), and the five main root causes of these barriers (such as inadequate enforcement of legislation).

Furthermore, recent shocks – including the pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine – resulting in restrictions to free movement, shortages of goods and services, and rising energy prices, have shown not only how vulnerable the single market can be to crises, but also the extent to which the EU economy relies on a well-functioning single market.

In May 2022, the plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe proposed to deepen the single market further. On 18 January 2023, Parliament adopted a resolution on the 30th anniversary of the single market. Reaffirming its readiness to play its role in the process, Parliament called for renewed commitment from the Member States and the other EU institutions, and a specific agenda for action towards 2030 and beyond, to strengthen and develop the single market further, not least in areas such as services, energy, telecommunications and the digital single market.

On 16 March 2023, the Commission put forward a communication on the single market at 30, in which it discusses a possible way towards further single market integration.

This is an update of an ‘at a glance’ note published for the ceremony marking the anniversary during the January plenary session. An EPRS infographic provides additional information on the single market.

Read the complete briefing on ‘The single market at 30 (1993-2023)‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament

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