Thirty years of the single market: Commission reports confirm that a strong single market strengthens Europe’s ability to face its biggest challenges

The reports confirm that the Single Market remains an essential tool to address the current challenges facing Europe and stress the importance of continuously improving its functioning, as well as the importance of its impact.

As part of the anniversary of the Single Market, the Commission published today the The 2023 Annual Single Market Report highlights Scoreboard. The reports confirm that the Single Market remains an essential tool to address the current challenges facing Europe and stress the importance of continuously improving its functioning, as well as the importance of its impact in terms of increased added value for the EU economy.

Both reports will serve as a basis for discussions with Member States on strengthening the Single Market and for the Commission’s future work to ensure that the Single Market reaches its full potential by supporting the resilience and competitiveness of the European economy.

The 2023 Annual Single Market Report analyses the integration of the Single Market and its help to overcome current geopolitical tensions, improve the EU’s competitiveness and support the green and digital transitions of our economy.

The 2022 Single Market Scoreboard shows the benefits of the Single Market for the EU economy. It provides a detailed overview of the application of EU single market rules across the European Economic Area, with a view to identifying ways to improve the Single Market. The review focuses on progress in implementing EU law, general business conditions, integration of the single market and other key policy objectives such as growth and jobs, resilience, digital and green economy.

The main findings of the report are as follows:

  • A strong single market strengthens Europe’s ability to face its biggest challenges:The 2023 Annual Single Market Report highlightsthe need to harness the strength of the Single Market to ensure the availability of the essential goods, services, skills and capital needed for Europe’s parallel transition. It sets out that progress is needed in strengthening the resilience of supply chains, addressing strategic dependencies, in particular on critical raw materials, improving integration into the services market and ensuring that Europe has the technologies and skills to address these challenges. The Single Market Scoreboard provides further evidence of the results achieved so far in terms of competitiveness, trade, economic resilience and parallel transitions, highlighting areas for improvement. This includes, for example, reducing occupational barriers (e.g. providing legal services) or cross-border recognition of professional qualifications (e.g. tourist guides), improving public and private investment, supporting SMEs and making efforts at national level to support the twin transition.
  • Strong potential of digital tools and data to improve Single Market governancethis Annual Single Market Report highlights the fact that new approaches, including better use of digital technology and eGovernment systems, such as, inter alia, the Single Digital Gateway and the ‘once-only technical system’, will lead to increased trust among competent authorities and reduced burdens for businesses and administrations.
  • The Single Market brings increasing added value to the EU economy:the Annual Single Market Report and the Single Market Scoreboard assess the benefits and increased trade between Member States that the Single Market has enabled since its creation. The Scoreboard shows increasing trade integration in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic: in June 2022, intra-EU trade represented 60 % of total EU trade.
  • • Companies benefit from better enforcement of rules and general conditions, but difficulties remain:the Scoreboard showsthat the implementation and enforcement of single market rules is improving. This is reflected in the lower number of infringement procedures against Member States in 2021, which is the first time in four years. The Scoreboard also shows better use and application of several important Single Market tools such as the Internal Market Information System,the Single Market Transparency Directive,as well as the increased use of SOLVIT,helping to prevent or remove barriers in the Single Market. In addition, businesses in most Member States considered that the regulatory burden decreased in 2021, but are facing increasing problems with late payments by public authorities, in particular due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The context

The accompanying analyses in the annual reports will serve as a basis for the Communication “The Single Market after 30 years” to be published by the Commission in the coming weeks.

The Annual Single Market Report was published for the first time together with the updated Industrial Strategy in May 2021. It analyses the state of play of the European economy and assesses progress in implementing the 2020 European Industrial Strategy. The Commission is today publishing the third edition of the Annual Single Market Report, which also marks the 30th anniversary of the Single Market.

The Single Market Scoreboard was first published in 1997. The 2022 edition of the Single Market Scoreboard contains, in addition to traditional indicators, new indicators of the business environment in terms of administrative response capacity and regulatory burden, as well as information on access to services and services markets, labour mobility and access to finance. It also reports on other results achieved in the Single Market relating to growth indicators, employment and social indicators, integration of goods and services, economic resilience and the digital and green transitions.

More information

Annual Single Market Report 2023: thirty Years of the Single Market

Single Market Scoreboard 2022