June 2017

Single market strategy

The single market is one of Europe’s major achievements. It delivers tangible benefits for people and is an engine for building a stronger and fairer EU economy. By allowing people, goods, services and capital to move more freely, it opens up new opportunities for citizens, workers, businesses and consumers, creating the jobs and growth Europe so urgently needs.

What the EU is doing

Common consolidated corporate tax base — Good for Europe

The EU continuously seeks to make it even easier for people, companies and public authorities to seize the full opportunities of the EU single market with its potential customer base of 500 million people.

The Commission is in particular working to:

  • address current regulatory or administrative obstacles that prevent people from easily buying or selling goods and services from or in another Member State;
  • create a capital markets union to make it easier for companies — big and small — to raise money and make Europe a more attractive place to invest;
  • encourage workers to take up jobs in other EU countries in order to fill vacancies and meet the need for special skills;
  • prevent social dumping — the practice of using cheaper labour and moving production to a low-wage country or area;
  • boost administrative cooperation among national tax authorities;
  • work for the adoption of a common consolidated corporate tax base in the EU and a financial transaction tax.

Enforcing EU law

One of the main reasons why the opportunities that the single market offers on paper are not a reality is that EU law is not fully implemented and enforced. Non-compliance weakens the single market and lowers citizens’ confidence in it.

Much can be done by enforcing existing rules better. The Commission is working with authorities and stakeholders in the Member States to create a smart and collaborative culture of compliance based on comprehensive, reliable and unbiased information. This is being used to improve its ability to monitor and enforce EU rules. Plans are in place to strengthen the market surveillance mechanism to detect unsafe and non-compliant products and to remove them from the EU market. Finally, the Commission is reinforcing pre-emptive measures to avoid the creation of new barriers in the market for services.

Capital markets union

Small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups and young entrepreneurs face many obstacles. Access to finance is a critical issue.

Small and medium-sized enterprises often complain about the complexity of VAT regulation, aspects of company law and how to comply with various regulatory requirements in different markets.

Efforts are already underway to improve companies’ access to private finance through the investment plan and the capital markets union. Against this backdrop, the Commission is creating a European venture capital fund-of-funds supported by the EU budget and open to others to attract private capital.

The Commission is also simplifying VAT regulations for companies, reducing the cost of company registration and giving entrepreneurs who fail a second chance.

Boosting the services sector

The Commission has proposed a number of measures to give a fresh boost to the services sector, which accounts for two thirds of the EU economy. With these proposals, the Commission will help Member States design future regulation in a way that allows providers of services to blossom, whether they want to stay at home or do business in another EU country. The Commission has also proposed a services e-card, which aims to help providers of services navigate the administrative formalities required to provide services abroad, without affecting existing employer obligations or workers’ rights.

Your first EURES job

Labour mobility

The Commission is working to increase fair labour mobility in Europe by removing barriers that hinder it. By reforming the European job mobility portal EURES, the Commission aims to increase the number of jobs available on the network’s internet portal and to make them easier to find. It also wants to improve assistance with job search and recruitment across Europe and to ensure the best match between employers and job-seekers.

The Commission supports mobility by helping job-seekers and employers in Europe find each other, wherever they are. It also seeks to make sure that the EU’s mobile workers are not abused and to help coordinate the fight against undeclared work.

The creation of a European platform against undeclared work will bring together the Commission and national authorities in charge of combating undeclared work, allowing for an exchange of information and best practices. Over time, the platform will go on to promote training for staff from various countries and joint cross-border inspections. The decision on establishing the platform was taken in March 2016.

The Commission is working on the better enforcement of EU rules on the posting of workers. These will boost the rights of posted workers, make the cross-border provision of services easier and fight against social dumping. Its aim is to improve the application of existing rules, without changing them.

Intellectual property

The unitary patent is close to becoming reality. It will be an attractive and affordable way for European companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to capitalise on their ideas.

The Commission is also reviewing the enforcement of EU intellectual property rules in line with the ‘follow the money’ approach, the aim of which is to deprive commercial-scale infringers of their revenue flows, rather than pursuing individuals for infringing intellectual property.

Public procurement in the EU

Public procurement

EU rules aim to ensure the efficient use of taxpayers’ money, reduce corruption and modernise public administration. Transparent and competitive public procurement across the single market creates business opportunities and contributes to more efficient public administration, economic growth and job creation.

Modernising the EU’s standards system

Standards contribute to safety, innovation and interoperability and are essential for building the single market. The Commission is working with relevant partners to modernise the standardisation process in light of the changing nature of the economy and diversification of business models (globalisation, extended supply chains, etc.), the ever expanding role of information and communication technology, the growing importance of services and the bundling of goods and services in single packages.

This publication is available in 24 languages and in the following formats:

  • European Commission
  • Directorate-General for Communication
  • Citizens’ Information
  • 1049 Brussels