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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Barriers to trade

New or changing technical regulations in different countries can create unnecessary and unjustified technical barriers to trade. Discrepancies between product rules can impose additional costs on exporting enterprises and restrict inter-EU trade. The European Commission’s objective is to prevent the creation of these barriers and help enterprises trade freely in the EU and beyond.

To help prevent the creation of technical barriers to trade, the Commission manages two notification procedures

The benefits of the notifications procedures

The two notification procedures allow for the examination of any national technical regulation before it is adopted. This allows the Commission and EU countries to

  • detect barriers to trade and protectionist measures before they have negative effects
  • make notified drafts compatible with EU law and WTO rules
  • create an effective dialogue
  • engage with economic operators to make sure their voice is heard and give them time to adapt their activities to future regulations
  • identify harmonisation needs

The Directorate-General (DG) for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs coordinates the two procedures, consults all other relevant DGs, and prepares responses to ensure the compatibility of national technical regulations with EU law and WTO rules. Industry and other stakeholders are welcome to contribute to both procedures by sending their concerns to the Commission.

The Single Market Transparency Directive 

The Single Market Transparency Directive serves two distinct functions:

  • It requires national authorities to inform the European Commission of any draft technical regulations on products and information society services before they are adopted in national law
  • It prevents new barriers on the Single Market

Report on the operation of the Single Market Transparency Directive from 2016 to 2020

Links to databases