The internal market, also called single market, is an area of prosperity and freedom which offers free access to goods, services, employment and business opportunities. 500 million European citizens enjoy the advantages of the four freedoms and thus the cultural diversity of the EU’s member states.

The preservation of the internal market requires continuous dedication. Ever since its creation in 1993,it has been evolving constantly. The current debate on the internal market has been stimulated by the European institutions by issuing various communications and reports. The communication on the Europe 2020 strategy, the communication “Single market Act: Twelve levers to boost growth and confidence” and lastly the communication “Single Market Act II: Working together to create new growth” have aided the deepening of European integration. Lastly, a report by the European Commission “A new strategy for the single market – at the service of Europe’s economy and society” was released in order to further support the single market.

The Single market Act II outlines three priorities, which seek to foster a more integrated single market:

• mobility of businesses (mobilising long-term investment, modernising insolvency proceedings, creating a business framework which provides entrepreneurs with second chances);
• the digital economy (The Commission has outlined various ways to achieve the completion of the digital single market by 2015. It has proposed that e-commerce should be promoted in the EU by making payment services easier to use, more trustworthy and more competitive; there is also a need to address the key causes of the lack of investment in high-speed broadband connections and to standardise electronic invoicing in public procurement procedures);
• consumer confidence.

Considering the three priorities mentioned above, the focus lies on the support of SMEs, which represent the majority of European enterprises and thus the foundation of the European production system. SMEs account for 99% of European enterprises and employ two third of the private sector’s employees. Various initiatives and measures have been adopted in recent years so as to support SMEs, for instance the Small Business Act, which outlines a strategic framework in this specific area. SMEs take a central role in two programmes of the European Union, which underlines their importance concerning the single market. Horizon 2020, which is the framework programme for research and innovation and COSME, which is the programme for competitiveness of European SMEs, employ a strong focus on SMEs and the internal market.

Useful links:

European Commission – Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

European Parliament – Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO)

Council of the European Union

Committee of the Regions - Commission for Economic Policy (ECON)


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