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Brussels, 17 December 2008

"The Single Market: our most valuable asset"

Single Market policy has played a vital role over the course of the last year in the European Commission's response to the financial crisis and the deepening recession, according to a Commission report published today.

"The Single Market Review: one year on", a Commission Staff Working Document, outlines a series of measures that have already been taken or are in the pipeline, that will help create the conditions to relaunch the European economy.

Stronger contractual rights, the removal of unjustified obstacles to cross-border buying, the introduction of effective redress when things go wrong and the availability of clearer and better information for citizens about their single market rights are among the initiatives which are underway. Safer financial products - bank accounts, savings, investment products and payments – were also prioritised in 2008.

For companies, and particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), single market policy has prioritised lower costs and administrative burdens, simpler company rules and better access to markets in other Member States. The Commission has also tabled a proposal for a simple, single company statute. SMEs will soon be able to obtain payments from their debtors more promptly, use electronic procedures instead of paperwork and deal with administrative formalities through one contact point.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "The single market is Europe's most valuable asset which we should exploit to the full. A market of 500 million people offers enormous possibilities to help reverse the downward economic slide. The economic crisis has vividly demonstrated the value of the new approach we set out in the Single Market Review, and the importance of a level playing field for companies. The deepening recession has added a new sense of urgency to the reform of single market policy. I look forward to driving forward a range of single market policies and measures in 2009 that will contribute further to the Commission's overall efforts on the economy. I hope that both EU institutions and Member States will actively contribute to this important work. In particular, Member States must move quickly to reach agreement in the Council on a number of key measures to make life easier for SMEs."

The report announces the presentation of a Commission Recommendation on Partnership in June 2009 on joint management of the single market with the Member States. To achieve optimal implementation of single market rules at national level, Member States are urged to set up a national single market coordinator function. This system has seen real added value in a number of Member States already.


The November 2007 Single Market Review put citizens, consumers and SMEs at the centre of policy-making. The present report sets out how the Commission has implemented this new vision for the single market of the 21st century. This vision, endorsed by the heads of state or government in March 2008, set out to modernise how the single market would deliver tangible results: through more evidence based tools, through deeper partnership with the Member States, and through reaching out to stakeholders right across the board.

"The Single Market Review: one year on" is presented as part of the 2009 Lisbon Package and in view of the next European Council meeting, on 19 March 2009. It is published alongside the Staff Working Document "Market Monitoring: State of Play and Envisaged Follow up".

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