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6.  The EU common market

  1. Completion of the internal market of the EC/EU
  2. Free movement of goods in the EU
  3. Public procurement in the EU
  4. Free movement of workers in the EU
  5. Freedom of establishment and recognition of qualifications in the EU
  6. Freedom to provide services in the EU
  7. Free movement of capital in the EU
  8. Trans-European Networks in the EU
  9. Appraisal and outlook of the European common market
  10. Bibliography on the common market of the EU

The creation of a single European economic area based on a common market was the fundamental objective of the Treaty of Rome [see section 2.1]. Article 2 of that Treaty set out that objective as follows: "The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and progressively approximating the economic policies of Member States, to promote throughout the Community a harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, an increase in stability, an accelerated raising of the standard of living and closer relations between the States belonging to it". It is obvious that the common market was not an end in itself, but a means to achieve economic and political goals.

It is useful to define here the concepts of "common market", "single market" and "internal market" which are used almost synonymously but which have significant nuances of meaning. The common market is a stage in the multinational integration process, which, in the words of a Court of Justice ruling, aims to remove all the barriers to intra-Community trade with a view to the merger of national markets into a single market giving rise to conditions as close as possible to a genuine internal market [see case 15/81]. It is worth noting that the Treaty of Lisbon ignores the concepts of the "single market" and of the "common market". It replaced the words ''common market'' (of the treaty of Nice) by the end result of this stage of the integration process, the "internal market", which according to Article 26 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (ex Article 14 comprises "an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties". The following pages give an illustration of the obstacles which the Community had to clear during the common market stage in order to reach the goal of a single market by the end of 1992, a goal set, in 1985, by the then President of the Commission, Jacques Delors.

The establishment of the common market first required the elimination of all import and export duties existing between Member States before the foundation of the European Economic Community (EEC). We saw in the previous chapter how the Member States effectively removed the customs barriers even before expiration of the period laid down by the Treaty and how immediately after tariff dismantling, they began erecting other barriers between them, in particular technical barriers which, in some cases, were even more difficult to overcome [see sections 5.1 and 6.1]. In the first section of this chapter, we shall look at how the Member States decided to complete the common market and what measures they decided to take to eliminate technical obstacles to trade and to open up public procurement.

The creation of a common market resembling an internal market implies not only the liberalisation of trade among the participating member states but also necessitates the free movement of production factors: labour, capital and services. It further entails the free establishment of persons and companies in all the territory of the member states, in order to exercise their professional or business activities.  Hence, in order to speak about a common market, we need to have between the constituent member states the existence of four fundamental freedoms: freedom of movement of goods, thanks to the elimination of all trade barriers; freedom of movement of salaried and non salaried workers, thanks to the elimination of all restrictions to their entrance and residence in other Member States; freedom of establishment of persons and companies in the territory of any Member State and of the provision of services by them in the host country; and freedom of capital movements for business or personal purposes. It appears that the keyword of the common market is freedom.

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Your roadmap in the maze of the European Union.

Based on the book of Nicholas Moussis:
Access to European Union law, economics, policies
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Translated into 14 languages


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