The European single market

Up-to-date information on the European single market, the free movement of goods, capital, persons and services, freedom to provide services, EU Services Directive etc.

Basic information

The European single market is an economic area without internal borders, i.e. a single market is created from several national markets.

Its aim, in addition to providing the four fundamental freedoms, is to ensure growth, the maintenance and improvement of competitiveness and to promote job creation.

The benefits for consumers include a wide choice of goods and lower prices. Furthermore, the quality of goods and services is improved through competition between companies. In addition, the single market makes it easier for citizens to seek jobs and live in the EU Member States.

The European single market operates on the basis of the 'four freedoms':

  • Free movement of goods
    The Customs Union prohibits the collection of import or export duties and quantitative restrictions within the European single market. Common customs tariffs are charged in respect of non-member countries. Customs controls are only in place at the external borders of the single market.
  • Free movement of persons
    This freedom is defined by the right to pursue gainful employment (→ oesterreich.gv.at)German text (free movement of workers) and the freedom of establishment (→ oesterreich.gv.at) German text (the right of natural and legal persons to reside in all EU Member States and to carry out an activity as a self-employed person) in all EU Member States. Passport checks are no longer in place between the Schengen countriesGerman text. This leads to greater mobility for EU citizens.A valid travel document must, however, still be carried.
  • Freedom to provide services
    Natural and legal persons have the right to carry out cross‑border activities as self-employed persons in other EU Member States. The aim is to offer a wider range of goods and services. An important achievement of the single market in the field of freedom to provide services is the EU Services Directive.
  • Free movement of capital
    Restrictions on payment transactions have been lifted in order to create the conditions for a monetary union.

Anything that restricts the free movement of the fundamental freedoms is seen as a barrier to the single market. The main stumbling blocks to the single market are the differing interpretations and the slow flow of information regarding the single market rules within the individual Member States. To combat this, Member States and the European Commission are working together to raise awareness and improve their information channels. The 'Your Europe' portal and 'SOLVIT' are key tools for achieving this.

'SOLVIT'

The rules of the European single market sometimes pose problems for citizens and businesses. To resolve these problems, 'SOLVIT', an online network, has been set up as a contact point for complaints. The SOLVIT network seeks to find quick and pragmatic solutions to problems faced by citizens and companies as a result of the incorrect application of EU law by national authorities.

Further links

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 4 February 2021
Responsible for the content:
  • Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs
  • Federal Ministry of the Interior

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