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The Single Market

2012 marks the 20th year of the European Single Market.  With 500 million consumers, 21 million companies, and billions of dollars in intra-EU and global trade, the European Single Market has the largest GDP of any economy in the world.

The single market has been at the core of the European project from the start, and today, instead of being blocked by national borders and barriers, people, goods, services and money move around the EU nearly as freely as they do within a single country.

EU citizens have the right to live, work, study, or retire in another EU country; more than half a billion consumers benefit from the increased competition of a vast open market that leads to lower prices, wider choice, and better consumer protection; and cross-border business is easier and less expensive to establish and conduct—all thanks to the single market.

Between 1992 and 2009, measures creating the single market generated an additional 2.75 million jobs and 2.15 percent in growth in the EU. Today, trade among EU member countries accounts for 17 percent of world trade in goods and 28 percent of global trade in services.

More than ever, the single market remains one of the EU’s greatest assets, particularly in meeting the challenges of the current economic crisis. Far from being static, it continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of the 21st century, taking into issues ranging from the digital marketplace to telecommunications to climate and energy needs.

However, much untapped potential remains, especially in view of the current economic crisis. In 2011, the EU launched a new drive—the Single Market Act—to further optimize the single market through 12 initiatives that address new areas, promote growth, create jobs, and restore confidence.


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