In the EU’s single market (sometimes also called the internal market) people , goods , services , and money can move around the EU as freely as within a single country. Mutual recognition plays a central role in getting rid of barriers to trade.
EU citizens can study, live, shop, work and retire in any EU country - and enjoy products from all over Europe.
To create this single market, hundreds of technical, legal and bureaucratic barriers to free trade and free movement between the EU’s member countries have been abolished.
As a result, companies have expanded their operations. The competition has brought prices down and given consumers more choice:
At the same time, with the help of Europe’s various competition and regulatory authorities, the EU works to ensure that these greater freedoms don’t undermine fairness, consumer protection or environmental sustainability.
European businesses selling in the EU have unrestricted access to nearly 500 million consumers, helping them to stay competitive. The single market is also attractive to foreign investors.
Economic integration can also be a great advantage in times of recession, allowing EU countries to continue trading with one another, rather than resorting to protectionist measures that would worsen the crisis.
Many obstacles remain, however, in areas where integration is taking longer:
The financial services market is a special case. The EU is seeking to build a strong, secure financial sector — while avoiding a repeat of the 2009 crisis — by supervising financial institutions, regulating complex financial products and requiring banks to hold more capital. The creation of the banking union transferred the mechanisms for bank supervision and resolution from national to EU level in several member countries. There are also plans to set up an EU-wide capital markets union to:
EU citizens do not need a passport to travel within the Schengen areas, which currently comprises 26 countries:
Although Schengen countries no longer carry out checks at internal borders, they have stepped up checks on the EU's external borders.
To ensure safety in the Schengen area, these countries have also increased police cooperation, in particular through hot pursuit and continued surveillance of suspects moving between countries. The Schengen Information System allows the police and customs and national border control authorities to circulate alerts about wanted or missing people or stolen vehicles and documents.