Single Market Benefits

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Europe on the move

It’s a better life
How the EU’s single market benefits you

European Commission

Published in all the official languages of the European Union: Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. European Commission Directorate General Press and Communication Publications B-1049 Brussel/Bruxelles Manuscript completed in August 2002. Cover: EKA Cover lay-out: EC-EAC Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2002 ISBN 92-894-4051-1 © European Communities, 2002 Reproduction is authorised.

Printed in Belgium
O N W H I T E C H L O R I N E - F R E E PA P E R

It’s a better life
How the EU’s single market benefits you

A liberating experience Reaping the benefits From uncommon market to single currency Freedoms without strings Keeping competition clean, free and fair Protecting our freedoms Aiming to be a world leader New challenges Further reading 3 5 7 11 14 16 19 22 22


A liberating experience
You do not have to be very old to remember a time when moving around Europe was a big headache. Not so long ago people living in the 15 countries that are now EU Member States could take very little cash out to travel abroad. They had to put up with long queues at customs posts and passport controls every time they crossed a border. Goods worth more than 600 euro were immediately trapped in a web of paperwork, red tape and import taxes. The tax system alone required some 60 million customs clearance documents a year — a huge burden to companies, who had to pass on these costs to their customers. Moving from one country to another for work reasons can still pose administrative problems today, but it was infinitely more difficult with the nightmare bureaucracy of old times. Now, thanks to the European Union and its constantly developing single market, we have many new freedoms. They are freedoms to travel, work and do business abroad, choose from more goods and services and enjoy full consumer rights when shopping outside your own country.

In the years gone by, travellers and lorries often had to waste time waiting to be checked at each national border.
Keystone Pressedienst


It’s a better life

European citizenship and the Charter of Fundamental Rights
In December 2000 the European Union’s heads of state and government endorsed the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This draws together in a single, easy-to-read text all the personal, civil, political and social rights that European citizens are guaranteed. The concept of European citizenship is clearly defined. Not only can EU citizens stand for office in their own country, they also have the right to stand in European Parliament and municipal elections in the EU country where they live. (

And they are freedoms from many unnecessary rules and regulations, from ‘rip off’ prices in markets closed to competition and from artificial restrictions on choice. We have had a frontier-free single market in Europe since 1 January 1993, a decade ago. Gone are most of those barriers — physical, procedural, bureaucratic and commercial — that tended to confine people, goods and money behind national, protectionist walls. Now those barriers have been broken down, peoples’ opportunities, experiences and horizons are widening.

Of course, the process of opening up Europe is far from complete and much work remains to be done. Not all the principles behind the single market are yet fully applied in practice, but already the single market has transformed for the better many aspects of European life. And the achievement of the last decade or so is not just an economic one. Without losing any of their national characteristics and cultural traditions, citizens of the Member States have also become citizens of Europe (see box).