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International aspects of the single market

The size of the single market and the attractiveness of the EU regulatory model are key factors shaping the EU’s relationship with non-EU countries. Through its relations with these countries, the EU tries to ensure the best possible conditions for the international trade in regulated products.

Conditions for open international trade

To make the international trade in regulated products as easy as possible, the European Commission is trying to fulfil the following conditions for international trade

  • compatibility of approach
  • coherence of regulations and standards
  • transparency of rules
  • appropriate levels and means of regulation
  • impartiality in certification
  • compatibility of market surveillance measures and supervision practices
  • an appropriate level of technical and administrative infrastructure

International instruments

There are several international legal instruments that help better cooperation, convergence, or harmonisation of legislation. These facilitate the free movement of goods and they include

  • full integration of the EEA and EFTA countries in the internal market through the EEA agreement
  • alignment of the legislative system and infrastructure of EU candidate countries with the EU
  • similar alignment of neighbouring countries through bilateral Agreements on conformity assessment and acceptance of industrial products (ACAAs)
  • conclusion of inter-governmental Mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) for conformity assessment, certificates, and marking. These are intended to reduce the costs of testing and certification on other markets
  • reliance on the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade

General policy documents