In 2023, Europe’s single market turns 30!
Since its creation in 1993, the single market has helped to make everyday life easier for people and businesses, fuelling jobs and growth across the EU. It is one of the EU’s greatest achievements.
Today, the single market continues to be the driving force for the EU to address new challenges. It can help find solutions to tackle climate change, build up a clean and secure energy supply, and support the digitalisation of our economy. The single market is also the backbone of Europe’s resilience, allowing it to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic and the current energy crisis by helping companies diversify their supply chains and find new business opportunities.
The single market gives people the chance to travel and work around the EU and allows goods, services and money to move around almost as freely as within a single country. This has become an integral part of European life. These opportunities create more choice of products and services for consumers all around the EU.
A well-functioning single market requires everyone to play by the same rules. That’s why consumers can trust that the products and services they buy across the EU are safe and meet agreed performance requirements; and that companies respect rules on labour and environmental protection. The single market also helps us to project these high standards and values globally.
The single market helps companies, especially small ones, to attract investments to grow across the EU and globally. It also protects companies from possible shocks to their supply chains, by making it easier for them to find new suppliers and partners. In this way, the single market helped companies to connect and overcome difficulties like the recent COVID-19 pandemic, enabling Europe to deliver life-saving vaccines and lead the global response to the crisis.
The single market is Europe’s best answer to help tackle the impacts of climate change, develop a more sustainable and circular economy and society and take full advantage of the digital revolution. It allows for the scaling of innovative solutions across the continent and helps Europe to secure access to new technologies, critical raw materials and clean energy as well as infrastructure, financing and skills needed for this transition.
Key achievements of the single market
- Erasmus - one of Europe’s biggest successes, Erasmus started as a student exchange programme and is now supporting close to 640 000 people in their studies, traineeships or voluntary work abroad (in 2020). In addition, more than 11 000 young entrepreneurs have benefitted from work experience and mentoring in companies in other EU countries through the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme.
- Professional qualifications - Single Market rules ensure that professional qualifications from one country are recognised by another. Lawyers, engineers or people qualified in other professions regulated by EU countries can rest assured that they will enjoy equal opportunities in other EU countries.
- Safety of personal data - theEU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guarantees tech users certain rights, including control and access to their data, and even the right to request to delete their data. Organisations are now obliged to use security tools like encryption whenever possible to minimise the damage to users in the event of a data breach.
- Vaccines - vaccines have played a key role in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. Once granted medical approvals, Europe stepped up the production of vaccines for Europeans and the rest of the world.
- Energy provision - EU rules on energy providers empower consumers, making it easier for them to compare deals and switch electricity suppliers.
- Safety and quality of consumer products - EU rules and standards ensure that consumer products like clothes, toys, cosmetics or food contact materials are safe to use. For instance, chemicals rules ensure that these products do not contain harmful chemicals. Standards ensure that items like children’s clothes do not contain cords or drawstrings.
- Energy efficiency of products - thanks to EU energy labels, consumers can see how much energy and water an appliance will use. Ecodesign rules also ensure that household products like fridges or washing machines are becoming more energy efficient, helping to save energy and money.
- Right to repair - EU law guarantees that consumers have the right to repair or replace defective products without cost, during a period of 2 years.
- Roaming - when travelling to another EU country, consumers don't have to pay any additional charges to use their mobile phones.
- Common charger - new rules will ensure that people will be able to charge their mobile phones and other electronic devices using only one type of charger. This will be more convenient for consumers and help to reduce e-waste.
- Making business easier for SMEs - a network of national portals, available through Your Europe, provides information for businesses and the general public on how EU rules are applied in each EU country for cross-border users, as well as on available assistance services. The system should soon allow for the completion of many administrative procedures fully online, in all EU countries.
- Timely payments - EU rules ensure that public authorities remunerate businesses for the products and services they provide in a timely manner. . To further discourage a culture of late payments, current rules will be strengthened, especially to protect SMEs and the most vulnerable businesses.
- Public procurement - EU rules ensure that tenders by public authorities are open and transparent. Public authorities are also encouraged to procure innovative, cleaner and more digital products and services, for instance by opting for cleaner vehicles in public transport.
- Unitary patent - after years of negotiations, companies will soon be able to protect their intellectual property by registering for a single, unitary European patent. The new system will also make it easier to enforce companies’ rights in court, and overall make it simpler and cheaper for companies to protect their innovations.
- Critical inputs and technologies - businesses need essential inputs like critical raw materials or key technologies like semiconductors to help advance our economy’s greening and digitalisation. Thanks to the Single Market, Europe is working on reducing our dependencies on non-EU countries, including through the upcoming Critical Raw Materials Act, by diversifying supplies, increasing production in Europe and supporting recycling.
Single Market Programme (SMP)
The Single Market Programme (SMP) is the EU funding programme to help the single market reach its full potential and ensure Europe’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
With €4.2 billion over the period of 2021-2027, it provides an integrated package to support and strengthen the governance of the single market.
Single market activities throughout 2023
Want to find out what the single market does for you or join the celebrations?
Look no further.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the single market, you’re invited to join us at one of the many events, talks and exhibitions organised by the Commission and many different stakeholders that will take place throughout 2023 across the EU.
They will gradually appear on the map below.
- 7-8 December 2022Prague academic and policy conferences
- 7 December, an academic conference, brought together top researchers from academia and policy makers from EU and national institutions to present research findings and policy insights related to the single market. Speakers' presentations and recordings of all sessions are now available.
- 8 December, a political conference, focused on the further development of the Single Market and the vision for the next 30 years, its opportunities and risks for further integration. One panel was dedicated to how we can further remove barriers for SMEs in the single market.
- 16-17 January 2023January EP plenary session: debate
During the plenary, the European Parliament looked at how the single market has transformed Europe since its launch in 1993 and what else should be done to make full use of its potential.
- 24-25 January 2023EESC 575th Plenary session - 30 years of the Single Market, our greatest success but also the biggest challenge for the next generation
- February 2023 - April 2023Social media campaign
- 22 February 2023Adoption of SM30 communication
- April 2023 – December 2023Travelling exhibition
- 17-21 April 2023Hannover Messe 2023
The world's leading industrial technology trade show.
- 2 May 2023Single Market Forum
- Q4 2023Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) annual conference and SME Assembly
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The single market turns 30 in 2023, the European Parliament continues to work to adapt the single market further to respond to current challenges and make full use of its potential (16 January 2023)
Discover how Enterprise European Network experts can provide tailored advice on product compliance, taxation and regulatory rules, international business opportunities, intellectual property, and more (9 January 2023)
30 years of the EU single market: Time to face new challenges - EP resolution (18 January 2023)
European single market is turning 30 - press release (2 January 2023)
Commissioner Breton's speech at the conference on the 30th anniversary of the single market (8 December 2022)
Celebrating 30 years of the EU single market - Eurostat infographics (6 December 2022)