(Un)Single Market by choice

30 and single. Does the EU Single Market slash the oldest of all clichés?

30 and single? The EU Single Market does not succeed in slashing the oldest of all world’s clichés. 

Single by design, an indication of today’s actual “un-singleness” of the Market is to be found in the many existing obstacles to cross-border trade. The advent of a piecemeal approach to reform over the last years, began to create a complex web of national regulations that risk reaping common potential gains and create market distortions. But what would actually be the cost of a non-Europe, of an (un)Single Market?

Making sustainable products the norm is the core ambition of the European Green Deal. And home appliances make no exception. But what if countries take different routes on sustainability? How do different national measures impact the circulation of goods within the Union? 

In a fully fledged Single Market, a washing machine manufactured in Belgium can serve all Member States and European consumers, accordingly. This means that the same washing machine, addressing common requirements, can be sold all across Europe and that consumers are given the possibility to freely choose among all those available on the market, the one that best suits their preference and wallet. 

In an un-Single Market instead, the same manufacturing site in Belgium would need to design and produce 27 different formats of washing machines meeting each and every country's national requirements. A financial burden for both manufacturers and consumers, who would have to pay the additional product cost, but also an obstacle to the free circulation of goods. In a nutshell, a washing machine that was made for Spain dies in Spain - and the same logic applies to all other EU countries. As a result, consumers' choice would be limited to the sole format of washing machine addressing the specific requirements of the country, reaping all the benefits from a barrier-less trade. 

Since its foundation, the European economy has undergone profound structural changes. Member States addressing different matters in different ways and progressing at different speeds risk putting at stake the EU Single Market, unless European solutions are in place. As Jacques Delors once said “you cannot fall in love with the Single Market.” Indeed, no one will fall in love with the abstract idea of economic integration. But everyone will, with a concrete one that brings daily benefits to people and businesses alike. Here is what makes the Single Market, strongly single