Internal Market

One of European integration’s greatest achievements is the creation of a single internal market. The European Union’s internal market comprises the territory of all Member States. On its establishment in early 1993, an area without internal frontiers emerged where the four fundamental freedoms applied – the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital.

The free movement of goods enables close to 500 million citizens and companies in the EU to purchase and sell goods without constraints throughout the EU. The free movement of persons means that EU citizens have freedom of choice with regards to where they want to study, work and live. The free movement of services guarantees European businesses the right to provide and offer their services anywhere in the EU under the same conditions as in their country of origin. The free movement of capital smoothes the way for citizens and companies to invest, transfer or save money freely.

A single market for 21st-century Europe

In November 2007, the European Commission presented a document fundamental for the future form of the internal market and the direction to be taken by EU activities in this field. The communication ‘A single market for 21st-century Europe’ is the culmination of a review of the internal market launched in 2006. In it, the European Commission assesses the internal market’s achievements to date and spells out a strategy for the development of the internal market in the years to come.

The European Commission regards the internal market as completed in principle, and wants to concentrate now on improving the way it functions, with a particular focus on overcoming the existing and emerging barriers, for example, as a result of dynamic technological progress and the gradual enlargement of the EU. In this document, the Commission proposes to strengthen the mechanism of administrative cooperation between Member States and to create practical instruments to help EU citizens solve problems with the cross-border functioning of the internal market.

Assistance to consumers

The most significant policy measures based on the communication include assistance to consumers when exercising their contractual rights across borders, a proposal for the regulation of small businesses, greater awareness among small businesses and consumers, and clarification of the application of EU service-related rules (e.g. retail financial services).

Enhancing the knowledge economy

In the years to come the European Union will consolidate the four fundamental freedoms of the single market and, at the same time, place an emphasis on promoting the knowledge economy, in particular on developing scientific research and applying innovations in practice. Besides enhancing a supportive environment for scientific development, for instance via special ‘passports’ to make it easier for researchers to work abroad, the simple yet reliable management of intellectual property rights will be essential for the development of a knowledge economy.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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