1.1. MISSIONS AND VISIONS FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION
After fifty years of evolvement, European Union is not a simply an international organization anymore. The Union’s functions are spreading from purely economic and monetary up to the social and security matters; it has become an integral part of government for almost each European country.
The missions and visions for the European Union we seek is really the big picture of the Union that we have in our mind for the future of this organization. Thus we need to come together and look out for what the picture is like and where does the overlapping occur.
1.2. THE GENERAL VIEW OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
Although an implicit agreement seems to have been reached that European Union is something much more than simply an international organization of a kind, there seems to be no distinct vision of what it is then. What is European Union? What should we call it? What should we compare it to? Or is it completely unique and incomparable?
The issue of the basic idea of the European Union is something that should be elaborated by especially a convention like this. It is important that the people of the Union make it clear for themselves what they see in it and what they would like to see. If the union is unique, can we define it somehow? I think this convention should try to seek out the innovative ideas that are not limited by the traditional nation-state concentrated vocabulary of federations and con-federations. People often get scared of the comparisons that are made with state institutions thinking the European Union will exchange them with its own ones. So what is the European Union and what are its power structures?
The basic function of the Union is also something that needs clearing up. There are very many tasks the Union is seen obliged to fill: ensure prosperity and equality, freedom and security, justice and better co-ordination etc. Many of these tasks are contradictory and their completion may have a counteractive effect on each other. Some general view of what we see the basic roles to be is also something in need of discussion by the convention. What do we expect from the union and where do we lay the emphases? Is the primary goal to ensure welfare for all the nations of Europe or should the Union only set up the co-operation networks that would lead to a self-inflicted evolution towards prosperity? Has the Union been successful in creating a competitive basis towards other strong economic areas? Is the primary goal to be able to compete with outsiders and thereby defending European economy or does the emphasis lie in a more co-operation based relations? The roles of the Union are many and the ideas are even more numerous. The major emphases and views are still something to work on.
1.3. THE LEVEL OF INVOLVEMENT FOR EUROPEAN UNION
Most of the Europeans see the nation state as the primary authority for organizing the life of its people. European Union is often rendered the role of managing issues that cannot be well dealt with by a single country.
On the other hand, lately more and more claims have been maid for the Union to engage in tasks that require a more involvement and intervention into the functions of nation states. The whole social policy sphere and the task on ensuring equality cause the Union to take up a bigger role than has been accorded to it previously. Thus the issue of the level of the evolvement for the Union needs to be discussed.
People can also address the matter of fears about the extinction of the role of nation states more rationally. It is always easier to predict and comprehend the developments once the limits are determined. The role of the European Union is clearly increasing and the incremental evolution seems irresistible.
2. THE EUROPEAN UNION
2.1. HISTORY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
2.1.1. HOW THE EU WAS BUILT
Winston Churchill calls for a “kind of United States of Europe” in a speech given at the Zurich University.
The European Federalists Union is established in Paris.
The International Co-ordination of Movements for the Unification of Europe Committee, meets in the Hague. It is chaired by Winston Churchill and attended by 800 delegates. The meeting recommends the creation of a European Deliberative Assembly and a European Special Council, in charge of preparing political and economic integration of European countries. It also proposes the adoption of a Human Rights Charter and a Court of Justice.
A meeting to consider the creation of a European Community of Defence is held in Paris. Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and Germany attend the meeting alongside six observer countries – the United States, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The Council of Europe adopts as it emblem the blue flag with 12 golden stars on it.
The treaties establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) are signed by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands in Rome – from then on referred to as the “Treaty of Rome”.
The treaty became the foundation stone of the modern-day European Community.
The Council of Europe adopts the first directive. It establishes the EEC global foodstuff regulation by defining which colourants can be added to food.
French President General Charles de Gaulle doubts the political will of the United Kingdom to join the community – giving rise to his famous “non” to British membership of the EEC.
The EEC enters the third and last phase of the transition to the Common Market. This included the replacement of the unanimity vote by the majority system for most of the decisions of the Council of Europe.
The United Kingdom re-applies to join the Community, followed by Ireland, and Denmark. General de Gaulle is still reluctant to accept British accession.
Member states approve the Davignon Report on political co-operation. The objective is to get Europe to speak with a single voice on all major international problems.
Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom sign the treaties of accession to the European Communities.
At a meeting of the European Council in Rome, ministers decide to establish a European Parliament elected by universal suffrage.
The Single European Act, modifying the Treaty of Rome and extending majority voting, is signed.
The community ratifies the Vienna Convention for the protection of the environment.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is inaugurated in London.
A European Council Summit is held in Maastricht. It reaches an agreement on the draft treaty on the European monetary union. Then British PM John Major negotiates a British opt-out. “Europe Agreements” signed with Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
The European Council meets in Amsterdam and reaches a consensus on a draft treaty for a new phase of economic and monetary union and adopts a resolution on growth and employment.
The single currency, the euro, was launched on 1 January. Eleven member states adopted the new currency but three countries – Denmark, Sweden, and the UK – decided to defer a decision. The new currency has not been a resounding success – in its first year its value fell by about 30% in relation to other leading currencies.
The union was thrown into turmoil. After a scathing report suggesting corruption and mismanagement in the European Commission, all 20 commissioners were forced to step down.
The mile-stones in the history of European Union are as follows:
1946 The European Federalists Union is set into place in Paris, France.
1947 Federalist and Unionist organisations meet within the International Coordination of Movements for the Unification of Europe Committee.
1948 The Western Union Treaty (Brussels Treaty) is signed by Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
1949 The first session of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe is held in Strasbourg, France. Federalist members of parliament request the institution of a European political authority
1950 The Council of Europe Assembly approves the Schuman plan.
The European Union of payments is created.
Signature of the Human Rights and Fundamental Rights Conventions in Rome, Italy.
1951 Treaty of Paris European Coal and Steel Community set up by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Netherlands
1952 The Six (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands) sign in Paris the European Defence Community (EDC) Treaty.
1958 Treaties of Rome EEC (European Economic Community) and Euratom (European Atomic Energy Authority) are set up
1973 Denmark, Ireland and the UK join the EC
1979 1st direct elections for the European Parliament
1981 Greece joins the EC (10th member)
1984 2nd direct elections for the European Parliament
1986 Spain and Portugal join the EC
1987 Single European Act comes into force
1989 3rd direct elections for the European Parliament
1990 Agreement on setting up EBRD is signed
1993 Treaty of Maastricht European Union comes into being
1994 Committee of the Regions is set up
1994 4th direct elections for the European Parliament
1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU
1999 Amsterdam treaty in force 5th direct elections for the European Parliament
2002 Euro launched
2003 The Treaty of Nice enters into force.
EU and NATO sign Security Pact in Athens, Greece.
2.1.2. MEMBER STATES OF EU
Foundation: 6 member-states.
1951: Belgium, Netherlands Luxembourg and (West) Germany, France and Italy.
First enlargement: 9 member states
1973: The United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland join.
Enlargement in the 1980s
1981: 10 member states. Greece joins.
1986: 12 member states. Spain and Portugal join.
Enlargement in the 1995
1990: Reunification of Germany.
1995: 15 member states. Austria, Finland and Sweden join.
Enlargement in the 2004
2004: 25 member states. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus join.
2.1.3. HISTORY OF THE EUROPEAN INTEGRATION
One of the first crises affecting the course of European integration occurred in 1965. A switch away from decision-making and to majority-voting in the Council was supposed to have been made on January 1, 1966. However the De Gaulle government of France was firmly opposed to this, seeking that all discussions on decisions affecting national interests should be discussed indefinitely essentially requires the retention of national veto on all issues of importance. This led to the “empty chair policy” in which France refused to take its seat in the Council for a six month period starting in July 1965. Finally the Luxembourg compromise of January 1966 resolved the crisis by acknowledging the disagreement and beginning a policy where each member-state could wield a veto on matters it deemed of “national importance”. In effect these meant member-states could use a veto, but only sparingly. This was a political gentlemen’s agreement and not a treaty modification.
The three European Communities have always had identical memberships and similar institutional structures. Originally they shared the Court of Justice and Parliament in common, having separate Councils and Commissions (called the High Authority in the case of the ECSC); but the Merger Treaty of July 1967 merged their Councils and Commissions into a single Council and Commission. A customs union was established in 1968.
The first direct elections for the European Parliament were held in 1979, after a decision to that effect was first adopted in 1976 and ratified in 1978.
The first step in transforming the European Communities into the European Union was made with the Solemn Declaration on European Union (also known as the Stuttgart Declaration), of 19 June, 1983.
In 1986 the Single European Act was signed, the first step towards the single European market. At the same it formally introduced the concept of European Political Cooperation.
In 1992, the Maastricht treaty was signed, which at the same time modified the Treaty of Rome. It established the European Union, turning the European Communities into the EU’s so-called “first-pillar”, and adding two further pillars of cooperation, on Common Foreign and Security Policy and on Justice and Home Affairs. At the same time it established Economic and Monetary Union as a formal objective. The Maastricht treaty came into force in 1993.
The European Economic Area was founded in 1994 in order to allow EFTA countries to participate in the Single Market without having to join the EU.
In 1997, the Treaty of Amsterdam was signed, which updated the Maastricht treaty and aimed to make the EU more democratic.
In January 1999, eleven countries (Austria, the Benelux countries, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain) agreed to join the Euro and abandon their existing currencies. Greece joined two years later, in January 2001, bringing the members of the eurozone to twelve. On January 1 2002, Euro notes and coins entered circulation.
Evolution of the structures of the European Union.
2.2. DEPARTMENTS AND POLICIES
2.2.1. THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
The Commission’s job is to plan policies and to put together written proposals on what it feels the Union ought to be doing. It also acts as a mediator and will try to sort out arguments between governments if they can’t agree between themselves. When looking at any proposals or problems, members of the Commission must put the European interest first. They should think about the situation in Europe as a whole rather than about their own country’s needs.
2.2.2. THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
The council decides on whether or not the proposals put to it by the European Commission become law. Each country will send one of its own government ministers to attend the Council so at present there are 25 members. If the Council is discussing something, which would affect agriculture, then the Minister of Agriculture will attend and if discussing transport, then the Minister of Transport attends and so on.
Meetings of the Council are held in Brussels or Luxembourg. The minister of whichever country holds the EU “Presidency” chairs them. Each member country holds the Presidency for six months.
2.2.3. THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
The European Parliament gives opinions on draft legislation and sometimes takes decisions jointly with the Council of Ministers. It discusses the ideas and suggestions put forward by the Commission and the Council of Ministers, and propose amendments. In certain areas, including consumer protection, the Parliament and the council take final decisions jointly. It is often described as the ‘watchdog’ of the EU because it keeps an eye on how these other two bodies are working. It also watches how the money is spent as the budget for the EU is quite large and has to be shared out as fairly as possible between all the countries.
Meetings of the Parliament are held about once a month in Strasbourg or Brussels. The people who sit in Parliament are called Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and are elected by the people whose country they represent. Elections are held every five years.
2.2.4. THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE (ECOSOC)
This body established by the Treaty of Rome gives advice to the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. The Commission and the Council will automatically consult it whenever a new EU law is being prepared or discussed. Members of the group come from each EU country. They are chosen by their government and represent people from different backgrounds and with different interests. Some may be employers, some workers or trade union members or ordinary consumers. Altogether there are 222 members including 24 from the U.K. The Committee can also put forward its own suggestions to the Commission if it feels that there is something, which needs to be looked into.
2.2.5. THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE
The European Court of Justice sits in Luxembourg and is made up of one judge from each Member State. It is there to make sure that once an EU law is made; all the countries within the Union follow it fairly. If there is a disagreement, then the Court of Justice can decide who is right. The Court may be called upon by the Commission, the Council of Ministers, a member country or an individual citizen. Once it has made a decision, it has the full force of law, thus everyone in the EU has to obey the Court’s ruling or decision.
2.2.6. THE EU CONSUMER COMMITTEE
There are several other groups in Europe who looks after the interests of the ordinary people and who speaks to the Commission on their behalf. One of these groups is the EU Consumer Committee (CC) set up in 1973 to advise the European Commission on consumer affairs. If the Commission is looking at new laws, which would directly affect consumers then it will automatically ask the CC what it thinks about them. The CC will set up special working groups of experts who discuss the Commission’s ideas to see whether they think they will work out. Meetings are held about four times a year in Brussels.
2.2.7. THE EUROPEAN BUREAU OF CONSUMER ORGANIZATIONS
BEUC, the European Bureau of Consumer Organizations, is based in Brussels and draws together the work of the European Consumer Organizations on EU affairs. It also commissions or pays for studies and surveys to be carried out into what it regards as problem areas for consumers. For example it conducted a study into after-sales services for cars. It has used the results to put pressure on both the Commission and on car suppliers to try to improve the kind of service given to car buyers.
2.2.8. HOW EU LAWS ARE MADE
The European Commission draws up a set of written proposals, which it may send off to a number of organizations for comment. Organizations may debate and discuss the proposals and then send them back to the Commission with comments.
There are two kinds of EU law that state the agreements reached by the council and Parliament – Regulation and Directive. Regulations are much stricter than Directives and they are very precise and detailed, setting out what member states have to do to implement these agreements. All Regulations must be obeyed completely by every country in the EU Directives, on the other hand, national governments to pass law on a particular matter within a certain time. However, unlike Regulations, Directives only give the member state an outline of what the law must be and leaves the details up to the government. The Council can also make a Decision, which is a ruling that is binding; and Recommendations, which give a policy but do not oblige Governments to act on them if they do not wish to.
The Commission is increasingly relying on the use of European Standards, especially in the area of product safety, to back up EU legislation. The work of developing these harmonized standards is given to the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). This is the equivalent of the UK’s British Standards Institution. Electrical standards are developed by CENELEC, the equivalent of our British Electro-technical Approvals Board (BEAB).
Decisions. Formal agreements and rulings addressed to governments, organizations or individuals which are binding on those named,
Directives. Instructions to member states to legislate within a set period of time. A directive gives an outline of the law and allows each country to decide the details.
Recommendations and Opinions. Non-binding views on policy.
Regulations. Laws, which are directly binding on all member states.
2.2.10. THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY
This is the name given to the EU’s method of organizing the production and distribution of its agricultural produce. It has probably caused more arguments than any of the EU’s other policies and takes up around half of the budget. It is an agreement designed to protect farming in the EU so the Treaty of Rome set up the Common Agricultural Policy (C.A.P.). It tried to make sure that the Community could become more self-supporting in food production so that the members didn’t have to import so much foreign produce.
The C.A.P. encourages farmers to grow food by guaranteeing high prices for what they produce. It assists those who want to make their farms more productive by giving them cheap loans to help them buy new machinery and so improve their land. The scheme guarantees prices for farmers no matter how much or how little they are able to produce (except for milk, for which each dairy farmer is given a limit or quota). In good years, or on very productive land, farmers may produce far more food than is actually needed. Over-production like this is sometimes called a “glut”. Normally farmers would have to drop their selling prices if this happens in order to encourage consumers to buy. If they don’t, they risk being left with a pile of unwanted food.
2.2.11. FOOD SURPLUSES
The C.A.P. agrees to buy up all the extra food that farmers can’t sell (the surpluses) and to store it until it is needed. This helps to make sure that farmers still get a high price and are willing to produce more next year. Sometimes the surpluses (often referred to in the press as “milk lakes”, “Butter Mountains” or “wine lakes”) are used up by the EU or they are sold off very cheaply to a non-member country. In fact, the Community almost always loses money on the deal. This is very unfair for consumers because they end up paying higher prices for the food that is produced because it is subsidized so heavily by the CAP. They also have to pay as taxpayers for storing or destroying the surpluses.
Some surplus EC food is sent to third world countries as food aid. But a lot of the surpluses are not suitable e.g. butter would melt unless taken all the way in refrigeration. Some food has been stored too long to be sent and relief agencies say that money is needed, rather than food aid, so that the country can set up its own farms rather than rely on food from other countries. The EU has agreed many changes to the CAP over the years.
2.3. THE CONSUMER PROGRAM
In 1975 the Community produced a plan of action to help consumers. It listed five basic rights, which it felt that consumers must have. They are:
The right to protection of health and safety i.e. goods and services offered to consumers must not harm them or put their health in danger.
The right to protection of economic interests. People who buy goods and services should be protected against sellers cheating (through misleading advertisements, unfair contracts or credit agreements) and against defective products or unsatisfactory services
The right to redress. Consumers should receive advice and help if they have been injured or suffered loss because of faulty goods or unsatisfactory services. They should also be compensated fairly and quickly.
The right to information and education. Consumers need to be given enough information about goods and services so that they can choose wisely. Children, young people and adults should be given educational opportunities to help them act as discriminating consumers
The right of representation (the right to be heard). Consumers should be consulted when decisions, which concern them, are prepared.
Weights and Measures: Since 1st January 2000 the United Kingdom is fully in line with Europe on metric weights and measures – with the exception of the pint measure in pubs and returnable bottles of milk for doorstep deliveries etc.
Dangerous Imitation Products: The Directive prohibits the placing on the market of non-food products, which, because of their characteristics, may cause people, and in particular children to confuse them with food. Placing such products in the mouth can cause death or injury. An example is scented erasers, which look like fruit or sweets.
Toy Safety: The Directive lays down essential safety requirements and prohibits the placing on the market of toys, which do not comply. Producers of toys may use specified voluntary harmonized European standards as a means of demonstrating that their toys satisfy the essential safety requirements, or submit them for EC type examinations to a notified body. Toys must be safe and be accompanied by the CE marking and member states are required to remove from the market toys that are unsafe.
Price Indications: This Directive is intended to facilitate price comparisons between products through transparency in the information made available to consumers. It imposes an obligation to indicate the final selling and unit prices of products for sale to consumer by trader. Private sales and sales between traders are excluded. Member States may exempt products supplied in the course of the provision of a service, sales by auction, and sales of works of art and antiques. Unit pricing may also be waived where it would not provide consumers with useful information, or where it would cause confusion.
Packaging Materials: The law now controls the use of chemicals used to make food wrappers including polythene bags and cling film. Research in America and Europe showed that there could be a risk of contamination from the chemicals “leaking” into the food. Some chemicals were known to be harmful and could perhaps lead to cancer. Following a detailed report by the European Union a new set of Regulations was drawn up to help reduce any dangers to consumers.
Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances: The Union financed a research project into the packaging and labeling of dangerous substances which include many of the things you are likely to find in your own home such as bleaches, metal polishes and detergents. Their findings resulted in a new law, which says that containers must be labeled with the name of any toxic or harmful substances and a warning of any risks or dangers. Some containers must be fitted with childproof fastenings to reduce the risk of their contents being swallowed by children who are too young to read the label.
Aerosols: Safety standards were introduced to lessen the dangers of pressurized aerosol containers leaking or exploding. They must be labeled with warnings to keep them away from heat and sunlight and they shouldn’t be pierced or burned even when empty.
Food Labeling Directive: Under the 1979 Directive, food must be clearly marked with name or description. Most pre-packed food must also carry a weight-ordered list of ingredients, an indication of minimum durability and the name and address of a seller established in the European Union. It has been amended a number of times and products must be distinguishable from others with which they might otherwise be confused.
Distance selling: The Directive covers purchases made by consumers by distant means e.g. through mail order catalogues or in response to direct mail, television, teletext, fax, post, e-mail and telephone. Consumers will have to be provided with specified information prior to the conclusion of the contract. They will, for most goods and services, have the right to cancel within 7 (working) days and orders must be supplied within 30 days unless otherwise agreed.
The Directive will particularly assist consumers in one Member State who buy from suppliers based in another. The directive does not provide for the protection of prepayments; sellers may still request advance payments. Unsolicited telephone sales calls will still be permitted, although consumers will be able to register their objections to receiving such calls and to have those obligations respected.
Product Liability: Producers (manufacturers or importers into the EU) are, under the Directive, strictly liable for any death, injuries, loss or damage caused by defective products. Member States may allow (as does the UK) a ‘development risks’ defense. This enables manufacturers to avoid liability for injuries caused by their defective products if they can show that the state of scientific knowledge at the time that the product was put into circulation was not such as to enable the defect to be discovered.
Product Safety: This Directive places a duty on suppliers of consumer products to supply only safe goods. It requires safety information to be provided, includes powers to remove unsafe products from the market, and contains a notification scheme for Member States and the Commission concerning dangerous products.
Cross-border transfers: Following the failure of its attempts to secure voluntary agreements to improve the speed, cost and efficiency of cross-border payments between banks, the EU adopted a Directive in 1997 covering transfers of up to ECU (euros) 50,000. The Directive provides for the provision of certain information to consumers before and after a transaction is made, stipulates a maximum time, and tackles the problem of ‘double charging’ of sender and recipient. Banks are liable if they lose their customers’ money while transferring it, but only up to a maximum of euros 12,500 per transaction.
Equal Opportunities: In 1986 the European Court of justice ruled that it is illegal to force British women workers to retire from their jobs earlier than men. Mrs Helen Marshall who was asked to retire from her job as Senior Dietician in a Southampton hospital when she reached 60 had brought the case as she felt that this was unfair because her male colleagues were allowed to stay until 65. The Court of justice decided that the British Government was acting unlawfully and had broken the EUs 1976 Sex Equality Rules.
The European Union has an equal opportunities action program aimed at promoting the full integration of women into the labor market. This means encouraging child-care support for women with families and ending the differentials between the earnings of men and women. One target of the action program was improving the number of women employed and the portrayal of women in the media.
3. EUROPEAN SINGLE MARKET
3.1. WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN SINGLE MARKET?
The principal objective of the EU, when first constituted as the EEC, was to make war in Europe impossible by developing both a common system of law and making member states’ economies completely interdependent.
This has been pursued by the creation of a Single Market and then a Single European Currency and Monetary Policy, by the coordinated conduct of economic policy by member states, and by joint action in international trade negotiations.
While the Single European Market (SEM) was ostensibly complete by the end of 1992, it remains a project in ‘continuous creation’: much SEM legislation remains to be implemented in member states; several important areas, particularly energy, remain unliberalised; and several member states have been accused of exploiting loopholes and discovering new ways to protect domestic industries.
The EEC aimed at reducing the ‘cost of non-Europe’ – that is, of stimulating trade between and economic activity in member states by creating a larger free trade area. This simple idea was to see the costs of European business reduced by removing internal tariffs and standardizing regulation – a process which has since been expanded to include the establishment of a common currency and monetary policy across most of the EU, and which aspires ultimately to achieve a common fiscal (taxation and spending) policy.
Internal tariff and quota barriers within the EU were abolished in 1968 – 18 months ahead of schedule – but it was not then until 1992 that the Single Market was deemed to have been completed.
In the absence of strong supranational and intergovernmental decision-making structures, it proved difficult to make progress on the more intangible barriers to free movement of goods, services, capital and labor, such as professional standards, regulations, persistent protectionist attitudes and of course divergent fiscal regimes. The oil crises of 1973 and 1980 reinforced protectionist attitudes where they survived.
The result was that during the 1970s and early 1980s, growth in the EU member states began to lag seriously behind that of international competitors. Efforts to establish a Single Market were meeting with limited success.
As such, in 1985 a White Paper was produced – adopted in the Single European Act of 1987 – identifying some 300 measures that would have to be addressed to complete the Single Market and setting December 31, 1992 as the deadline for completion. The new powers given to the EU’s institutions by the Single European Act made this goal achievable.
The Single Market rests on four pillars:
Free movement of goods, persons, services and capital between member states
The approximation of relevant laws, regulations and administrative provisions between member states
EU-wide competition policy, administered by the Commission
A system of Common External Tariffs (CET – also known as the Common Customs Tariff)
While the Single European Market was driven forwards a long way between 1987 and 1992, the notion that it is now complete is hard to sustain, even from a legal point of view.
Part of this is inescapable: language barriers and relative levels of economic development hamper the movement of factors; social and justice policy impinge on the purely economic vision of the Single European Market; and member states continue to compete with one another economically, at times seeking their own national interest rather than the greater good of the EU.
The latter problem arises particularly with EU Directives, which are instructions to member state governments to act to achieve particular objectives. It is argued by some that the UK has interpreted many of the Single Market Directives too strictly (‘gold plating’), thereby putting British companies and consumers at a disadvantage against jurisdictions with lesser demands.
Furthermore, many member states have sought derogations from particular elements of the Single Market, or have stood in the way of reform. The French state’s stake in the energy industry, for example, has led to the virtual exclusion of energy from the Single European Market to date. Mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications has also been a slow process.
The absence of a number of member states, including the UK, from the single currency is also seen by some as a major obstacle to the completion of economic integration.
With the process of enlargement to 25 states in 2004, the Single European Market has taken on a whole new meaning and with it a new set of problems. Of particular concern to several existing member states is the predicted economic migration of thousands of workers from the poorest new EU members. Some warn this will lead to greater unemployment and downward pressure on wages in existing member states, others believe that the new workers will fill gaps in the labor market and boost the economy.
Furthermore, many areas beyond the purely economic impinge upon the functioning of the Single European Market, such as internal borders, cross-border police and judicial co-operation, and differing systems of civil law. Most controversially, the question of tax harmonization is also seen to loom large as the empty chair at the Single European Market table.
The European Commission says that the Single Market has helped create 2.5 million new jobs and generated 800 billion in additional wealth since 1993
After enlargement in 2004, firms selling in the ESM zone have access to more than 450 million consumers
HOW THE EU WAS BUILT
BBC News; Tuesday, 5 December, 2000
THE EU AT A GLANCE, HISTORY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
ENLARGEMENT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
HISTORY OF EUROPEAN UNION
AN HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE EUROPEAN UNION
Philip Malcolm Waller Thody, NetLibrary, Inc.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
Lucy Lyons; Hendrik Spruyt, Columbia University.; Press.