The single market is the key component of the European Union. Soon after the Second World War, the European states joined together to form an economic union – also in the hope that countries trading with one another would not go to war. The European Coal and Steel Community developed into the European Economic Community and ultimately into the EU. Fair trade on an equal footing was and still is at the centre of the European idea and is part of the European success story.
Since then, European countries have created a common market for more than 500 million people. Workers can find employment in any of the 28 member states, and companies can offer their goods and services across international borders. The single market with its freedom of movement for goods and trade not only ensures peace, but also growth and stability in Europe. This achievement must be continuously defended, since, unfortunately, the common European market is far from perfect. For example, there are clear rules for trade with goods, but the member states too often fail to implement them properly. Poor enforcement of European laws contributes to uncertainty among consumers and damages honest companies, undermining the idea of the common market.
There is still much to be done in the area of working abroad. In the spirit of freedom of movement, EU citizens should be able to accept employment contracts and earn money abroad without restrictions. But in reality, work abroad is limited by bureaucracy and national requirements. This deprives people of opportunities and keeps the European economy from achieving its full potential.
The rules within the single market must be developed further to maintain its strength. Digitalisation is forcing the EU to answer completely new questions. Should autonomous vehicles be allowed to drive across international borders? What are the design requirements of a drone that can fly safely anywhere in Europe? These challenges demonstrate that a functioning single market is never complete and must be continuously revised.