The European Union‘s primary achievement, its single market, stands as its cornerstone. Jacques Pelkmans emphasizes the urgent need for EU leaders to bolster this market to safeguard the EU’s competitive edge and future prosperity.
Despite celebrating 30 years of the single market in 2023, no report assessing its status was requested or produced. Had it been written, it would have revealed the single market’s significant weaknesses and the presence of numerous barriers and distortions, undermining the EU’s investment climate.
EU policymakers are called upon to promptly and decisively enhance the single market. This action is critical for the economic vitality and long-term health of the EU, positioning the single market as a key asset amid global instability.
Achieving substantial economic gains, potentially increasing the EU’s GDP by up to 9%—equivalent to the combined GDPs of the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Ireland—demands concrete steps to empower the single market. Enhancing dynamism through start-ups, R&D, and patents could further boost GDP growth.
This endeavor requires committed leadership from the EU, with the European Council and the new European Commission taking the lead, supported by a dedicated Commissioner for the internal market. The CEPS In-Depth Analysis report, serving as a strategic blueprint, proposes a medium-term program for reinforcing the single market, emphasizing enforcement and rigorous oversight to ensure continuous progress.
The program should be ambitious, acknowledging the short-term difficulties some measures may introduce. Its success hinges on addressing service sector barriers, integrating European capital markets, improving banking services, and investing in cross-border infrastructure. Additionally, the program aims to tackle “hard fragmentation” issues, such as telecom consolidation and harmonizing various regulatory regimes across the EU, to streamline and strengthen the single market’s framework.