Felipe Medina: 30 years of the single market, a critical review from the EESC

The European Union is celebrating 30 years of the single internal market. The occasion calls for a thorough reflection, which the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) addresses in its opinion on 30 years of the single market: how to improve the functioning of the single market. This opinion considers that this policy has been a great success, but that "a critical review and a new improvement is still needed ... in terms of the new challenges to be faced".

Across the pages of the opinion, one key word stands out: competitiveness. The EESC stresses the need to create a level playing field for businesses by "promoting growth and fair competitiveness, and creating a business-friendly and socially friendly environment". One of the main concerns is the "increasing emergence of regional and national regulatory initiatives that enter into force before the publication of European initiatives, and which then make it difficult to harmonise rules" and create difficulties for businesses in their day-to-day.

It is also urgent both to ensure that all new regulations pass a competitiveness test and to improve the quality of legislation in Europe and in the Member States, avoiding as far as possible superfluous or confusing legislation that creates uncertainty for operators, which, among other things, leads to fragmentation of the European single market. In order not to lose competitiveness, it is also necessary to influence the free movement of people and workers; to deepen "a robust, ambitious digital policy"; to adopt a practical and realistic approach to the Green Deal priorities; and to improve the implementation of tools to monitor and control the functioning of the single market.

The EESC recognises buying alliances in many sectors as an example of good practices for competitiveness in view of the ability that some sectors – such as the retail and wholesale sectors – have shown to unite and become stronger at European level. “The retail and wholesale sectors, for example, have embraced the spirit and undeniable advantages of the single market to serve European consumers better everyday thanks to buying alliances and the single market".