2023 is the 30th anniversary of the European Single Market, which marks three decades of one of the most significant achievements in the integration between EU Member States’ economies and one cannot deny that the Single Market is a cornerstone of the EU and an essential instrument in promoting growth, stability, and competitiveness in Europe. The establishment of the Single Market was not an easy task and required the negotiation of numerous agreements and regulations, very importantly the Single European Act of 1986, which came into effect in 1993.
However, when looking at certain decisions of national and EU policymakers, the impression is that the preservation of a functioning Single Market can be a hard mission too.
On the one hand, we must not forget that the Single Market was achieved thanks to the four fundamental freedoms of the EU: free movement of goods, of services, of capital and of persons. It is therefore clear that the preservation and strengthening of these freedoms are crucial for the competitiveness of European industries and businesses and must be a priority for the EU. Perhaps, this was not clear enough when, at the outset of the Covid pandemic last 2020, Member States’ leaders decided to close their borders. This should not happen again. These considerations equally apply to the proper transposition and implementation of those EU legislative instruments that allow for the four freedoms to reap the most benefit, such as the Posting of Workers Directive. Here, national governments definitely need to make a greater effort to ensure that the Single Market really benefits from these rules.
On the other hand, no Single Market nor market integration could be successful without harmonisation of regulations, standards, and laws, ensuring a level playing field for all industries and businesses operating in the EU. In this way, the Single Market has allowed industries and businesses to access a large pool of customers and to compete with larger companies, creating opportunities for growth and expansion and promoting competition and innovation. Sadly, this also seems to be forgotten sometimes. One can question whether policy decisions such as, amongst others, the Proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, or the State aids “almost all-in” give enough attention to the need to ensure both a harmonised and standardised framework and a level playing field among EU Member States.
In sum, this article aims to remind that, in light of the recent developments such as the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, the pandemic and the disruption of global supply chains, it is more important than ever to maintain a healthy functioning European Single Market. And let’s not despair, as there are ways for EU leaders to take together EU common decisions to overcome common challenges that keep the Single Market safe. FEDIL will always be supportive of decisions ensuring a harmonised functioning of the Single Market and of its supply chains, knowing that the economy of a small country as Luxembourg can really benefit from it.