Over the past 25 years, the European Single Market has evolved into the world’s largest single market and most integrated transnational market. It remains the machinery by which all other EU policies can be successful. However, despite its successes, the Single Market is increasingly affected by a global rise in protectionism and distorted competition. Member states’ spotty track record when it comes to correctly implementing Single Market rules further challenges its functioning. The temptation to disregard them may be strong. But doing so can only lead to further market fragmentation and puts member states in a weaker position to respond to global competition. A priority for the next EU institutional cycle must be to make more strategic use of the European Single Market in securing reciprocal market access for EU businesses and citizens worldwide.
This Discussion Paper, based on the findings of a series of EPC roundtables, argues that it will be crucial for the next Commission to put the reform of the Single Market at the very top of its priority list. A modern and well-functioning single market is paramount if the EU is to deliver on the goals and aims it will surely set itself for the rest of its mandate, from sustainability to competitiveness and innovation. The EU should therefore define a new masterplan with concrete objectives to be achieved by 2022 – a ‘2022 single Market Action Plan’.
This should constitute an indivisible list of measures that will need to be agreed upon as a package-deal by the Council of the European Union, European Parliament and European Commission. The first section of this Paper, authored by Malcolm Harbour, identifies major priorities for the future of the Single Market, including appointing a ‘Commission Vice-President for EU Industry and Single Market’. The second part by Johan Bjerkem underlines what the central priorities of a 2022 Single Market Action Plan should be.
The full discussion paper can be found at https://www.epc.eu/documents/uploads/pub_9310_making_the_single_market_work.pdf?doc_id=2191