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25 years of the EU's Single Market - time to celebrate

Posted by Nick Prag at 23 March 2018, 00:50 CET |
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As Britain's leaders persist on a course to exit the EU Single Market, it is difficult to point to any benefits in doing so. This week the EU celebrates the Single Market's 25th anniversary. Rightly so.

What is the Single Market? It is about bringing down barriers and simplifying existing rules in order to enable everyone in the EU to make the most of opportunities offered by having direct access to 28 countries and 500 million people. The Single Market guarantees the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour – the so-called "four freedoms" – within the European Union.

Over the last 25 years, the integration of Europe's economies has done a great deal to increase prosperity and create jobs. It has brought down many barriers, it has given people new freedoms and opportunities, brought greater choice for consumers, brought prices down, it has allowed businesses large and small to benefit from a market of 500 million potential customers.

It has made it easier for us all to travel and to shop, it has broadened consumer rights Europe-wide, and it has given people more opportunities to live, work and study abroad.

People have been able to move to other EU countries to work or to enjoy their retirement, benefiting from the transferability of social benefit, while young people have had the opportunity to complete part of their studies in another Member State through the Erasmus programme.

The establishment of common standards has led to safer and environmentally friendlier products, such as food, cars and medicines.

The opening up of national markets has led to increased competition, driving down prices for consumers.

Less red tape has brought lower compliance costs for businesses, and the Single Market has given new opportunities to smaller businesses in particular, lowering costs of doing business with close to 500 million potential customers.

Finally, more open and competitive public procurement rules have led to better value for taxpayers.

The Single Market has made the EU the world's largest economy. As the presidents of the EU institutions said this week in a statement: "A generation of Europeans has grown up with it and benefited from it. We will keep making it stronger so that the next generation will benefit even more".

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.