In this op-ed, ALDE Party and European Parliament Vice President Dita Charanzová MEP sets forth the road ahead for the EU Single Market.
Free trade and the Single Market are the foundation of Europe’s growth, competitiveness and success. For the past three decades, barriers and red tape have been dissolved between EU Member States, national rules harmonised and common standards promoted to strengthen the Single Market. And having entered the digital revolution, efforts have been made to create a true Digital Single Market online as well.
Our lives are better, our products safer, prices are lower and we have more choices as a result.
Now, Europe is at a crossroads.
The Single Market is still not complete. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Single Market, we need to revitalise our commitment making an even better Single Market for our citizens by removing barriers and preventing new ones.
But today, this progress is under threat. Inward-looking, protectionist ideas have been gaining ground among EU Member States, a global trend too as we can see also with our key ally, the United States. National solutions being proposed to wider problems.
Uncoordinated national subsidies, national regulations and national requirements are the death of the Single Market by a thousand cuts. We are facing challenging times of transformation, from pandemic recovery, the war in Ukraine, an energy crisis, inflation and the cost-of-living soaring.
But what we need is a united European solution which protects the Single Market while supporting critical sectors and European supply chains. Europe cannot afford a national subsidies race both outside and from within Europe itself. We must act together to protect our businesses and to protect European jobs, and we must do so quickly.
How should we do this?
First, we need EU support for critical European sectors which support our companies in all Member States equally. This will prevent fragmentation.
Second, we need to continue engaging with likeminded countries and not enter a tit-for-tat subsidies war with our allies.
Third, we need to invest in research and development and general academic programmes to ensure that we have the technologies and the labour force to move our industries and economy forward.
90% of future global growth is predicted to take place outside of Europe. This does not have to be a bad thing - we are still in a position to take advantage of this trend. But we can only do so by strengthening our unity within and cementing our cooperation beyond. We need to revive the spirit of openness, cooperation and unity that has served Europe so well for the past 30 years, and is the only way to ensure growth and jobs in the future.