Brussels, 21 February 2007
The European Commission has today presented its vision for the single market of the 21st century. In an interim report to the Spring European Council, the Commission reviews the achievements of the last twenty years and sets out the way ahead to deliver further benefits for citizens and business, and contribute to a more competitive and sustainable Europe. It will be concluded by a final report with proposals for action this autumn.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "The single market is the core of Europe's endeavour. For citizens, it means the right to live and work in another EU country, and to access a wider choice of quality products and services at lower prices. For business, it means operating on a domestic market of 500 million people, based on the rule of law, with mutual respect and trust. The single market is more important than ever. I now want to see it strengthened and adapted to the globalised world of the 21st Century".
Since the Commission launched its single market initiative in 1985, the European Union has come a long way in turning the four freedoms - the free movement of people, goods, services and capital - into reality. This has brought major gains for European citizens and businesses.
Building on these achievements, the report sets out a vision for the single market of the 21st century and highlights the main directions to make it work better in the interest of:
The Commission proposes that the focus of the single market should shift from its initial emphasis of removing barriers to cross-border trade to one of ensuring that markets function better, to the benefits of citizens and business. The report therefore highlights new approaches to be explored in order to make the single market:
This interim report is a first step and responds to the undertaking given by the Commission in its May 2006 Citizens' Agenda to launch a fundamental review of the single market. It will be followed this autumn by a final report containing concrete proposals for action.