In January 1993, a new era for the European project began. The launch of the Single Market made everyday life easier for consumers and businesses, creating jobs and economic growth. Today, 30 years later, its stands as one of the EU’s greatest achievements.
Ensuring the free movement of goods, services, people and capital across borders has created opportunities for millions of citizens and increased European competitiveness, with the EU now the world’s largest trading bloc.
European liberals have always been advocates for a functioning single market. Indeed, as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe, we called for completing and promoting the Single Market, as well as a Digital Single Market to ensure a resilient and innovative future for our Union.
To mark three decades of these four key freedoms, we asked some of our liberal leaders for their perspectives on what the European Single Market has meant for their country and the continent as a whole.
Dita Charanzová MEP, European Parliament Vice-President
“Almost nineteen years ago, the Single Market became a reality for the Czech Republic, allowing citizens to live, work, and travel wherever they wish in Europe. Joining the Single Market served as a launching pad, not only for the prosperity of our businesses and enterprises, but also for the rise of freedom and democratic values. The Single Market enabled smooth transition from a planned economy to a modern, prosperous, market-based one. Czech businesses thrived, becoming globally renowned, and transforming into world leaders in their sectors.
For the future, however, we cannot take the Single Market for granted. Current attempts to weaken Single Market rules are threatening and can harm the level playing field in Europe. We have to ensure that we continue to strengthen the Single Market and its four freedoms, and to fight against the urges of isolationism and protectionism.
The years ahead will be extraordinarily challenging and it will test our ability of competitiveness, unity and resilience. To succeed, the Czech Republic and Europe need a stronger Single Market.”
Svenja Hahn MEP, ALDE Party Vice-President (FDP, Germany)
“The Single Market is the heart and core of the EU. Free movement between Member States, free trade and the right to move, study, live and work freely within the Union is what made Europe economically strong and brought Europeans closer together.
The Single Market is getting your favourite Danish yoghurt in a German supermarket, making new friends studying in Barcelona and surfing on your phone during your Greek beach holiday without extra charges.
All EU citizens and Member States benefit as a society and economy from the Single Market. Through the Single Market, the EU has grown into an economically strong, global player. As member of the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee, I work on legislation to bring the EU closer together, because the Single Market still has a lot of potential and areas to grow. It is time to unleash its full potential to succeed in the challenges of our time.”
Ivars Ijabs MEP (Latvijas attīstībai, Latvia)
“A prime example of how the EU Single Market has benefitted Latvia is the country's timber industry. The industry accounts for over 20% of Latvia's exports, with 75% of it going to other EU Member States. Access to the Single Market has enabled Latvian timber companies to expand their business and increase their competitiveness, providing a significant boost to the country's economy.
However, challenges remain. One of them is the need to ensure a level playing field across all Member States to avoid unfair competition. We need to ensure that the benefits of the Single Market are evenly distributed across all Member States, particularly for countries that are still catching up in terms of economic development. The rise of protectionism and nationalism in some EU countries could also undermine the principles of the Single Market.”
Morten Løkkegaard MEP (Venstre, Denmark)
“Danish trade with fellow EU countries has never been greater. Soon, trade may reach around €250 billion annually. New figures show that 1/6 of Danish jobs are directly dependent on exports within the EU’s Single Market.
However, the European Single Market is today much more than economic growth. In the past years, security has become an essential part of the Union - also in cyberspace. The increasing threat from hackers demands closer cooperation on cybersecurity, which recently resulted in an update for the directive on cybersecurity. Shortly, more legislation will follow.
Looking forward, we must reap all the benefits of the Single Market, especially in view of the economic instability following the energy and inflation crisis.
Member States have yet to realisze a huge potential. The Commission estimates that completing the service market can create almost €300 billion in growth yearly. Conclusion: We need to urgently remove national barriers and enforce EU legislation to boost our economies.”
Catharina Rinzema MEP (VVD, The Netherlands)
"The European internal market has been part of the Dutch economic success. With the Port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands is the main entry point of goods to the internal market. The open borders within Europe allow us to work and travel freely, contributing to the creation of many jobs and opportunities for our citizens.
The internal market is also good for our consumers. Whether it concerns cars, food or toys, European rules make sure that our products are safe. Thanks to the EU, we have more prosperity and we know that whatever we buy in the store can be trusted.
Several crises have challenged our Single Market in recent times. As a response, we need to show our resilience and reduce barriers for SMEs in order to boost our overall competitiveness. "
Margrethe Vestager, European Commission Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age
“The Single Market is the world's largest trading bloc. It has for thirty years been the fundament of the EU. It provides opportunities for millions of businesses as well as for consumers in Europe. The past two years has shown us that Europe's ability to absorb shocks and overcome crises, relies on a strong Single Market. That’s why we have proposed a Single Market Emergency Instrument to be able to take action together. To ensure that it also works in times of crisis.”