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European Single Market and Industrial Policy

The Single Market is the centerpiece of European integration and the foundation for growth, employment and prosperity in Europe. At the same time, it remains one of the EU's biggest construction sites. Only if we continuously deepen the Single Market in all areas can our industry remain globally competitive and can the EU maintain its global influence in the long term.

The Single Market is the largest common market in the world. It is home to around 450 million citizens and 21 million companies and accounts for 8.5 percent of European economic output. Thanks to the "four freedoms" in the Single Market, companies of all sizes can cooperate in cross-border value chains and develop innovative solutions that compete on the world markets and create jobs in Europe. 

Single Market policy is European economic policy

However, the full potential of the Single Market remains untapped. A truly completed common market could generate up to an additional 1.1 trillion euros or up to 8.6 percent of EU gross domestic product (GDP). The removal of barriers in the services sector alone would bring the EU an additional 338 billion euros or 2.4 percent of economic output annually. But instead of deeper integration, many EU countries' Single Market policies are characterised by unilateralism and national protectionism.

To unleash this untapped potential, the Member States, with the support of the EU institutions, must finally undertake the necessary reforms to further open their national markets. Especially in economically turbulent times, the completion of the Single Market must be an overarching objective of national and European growth policy.

Industrial and Single Market policy go hand in hand

European industry – from medium-sized family businesses to listed multinationals – is the backbone of Europe’s economy and society. It accounts for around two-fifths of international goods exports, holds a world market share of around one-fifth and contributes more than 20 percent to EU economic output. Supported by the European Economic Area, European industry guarantees a total of almost 62 million jobs in Europe.

Globally competitive European value chains are increasingly important for industrial growth and employment. Companies increasingly look beyond borders for partners. A well-functioning Single Market is therefore essential for the success of industry. EU Single Market and industrial policy must therefore always be seen as two sides of the same economic policy coin.

Industrial policy has always been anchored in the European Treaties. Unfortunately, though, the EU institutions and Member States have in the past often given priority to other policy areas. In view of the profound socioeconomic and geopolitical transformations of our time, such as climate change, digitisation and global power shifts, a common European approach to industrial policy appears more necessary than ever. Industry needs the right framework conditions to turn the challenges of these transformation processes into opportunities. This can only succeed if we manage to smartly reconcile our ambitions for the highest possible environmental, climate and consumer standards with the objective of a strong and globally competitive European industry.

At TDI 2020, Fredrik Persson, President of Svenskt Näringsliv, called the single market "the hallmark of Europe" and spoke to us about the technologies that he sees at the forefront for Europe's green, digital future. © BDI