The single market has been a cornerstone of European integration 


This year, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the European Union Single Market. Addressing a ceremony at the European Parliament, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola said that the creation of the single market was about freedom, prosperity and opportunity.

© European Union | The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola addressing
the Plenary Ceremony on the 30th Anniversary of the Single Market

In February of 1992, when addressing the European Parliament, then Commission President Jacques Delors called the creation of the single market ‘the beginning of a new era’. 

And so it was. 

The single market has been a cornerstone of European integration. It united Europe at a time where the weight of walls and iron curtains felt so heavy. We tore down internal barriers, and replaced them with common values, creating a place where goods, persons, service and capital could freely move around. 

It was not just an act of symbolic unity. 
It was about something far greater than that.
It was about freedom. About prosperity. And above all, opportunity. 

Opportunity for all citizens to be able to live, work, study and travel anywhere within our Union - knowing that their fundamental rights and freedoms will be protected throughout;

Opportunity for businesses, large and small, to establish themselves wherever they choose, giving them greater market access while fostering competitiveness;

Opportunity for consumers to have wider choices, at cheaper prices and with stronger consumer protection that will account for their interests;

And perhaps the one most often overlooked: the opportunity for our collective interest. Being the world’s largest single democratic market has strengthened our place in the world. And here, Europe has far more leverage than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. 

Dear colleagues, the single market is one of our Union’s greatest achievements. And truth be told, it has become indispensable to us all.

Today, our single market accounts for 56 million European jobs. It has raised the European Union’s GDP between 8 and 9 percent on average. And it has even accounted for over one million babies born to Erasmus couples over the past 30 years!

And yet, with war having returned to our continent, with dwindling energy supplies and inflation rising, it is easy to fall into the warped narrative of euro-sceptics. I cannot talk about the single market without mentioning the regretful departure of the United Kingdom, where we truly understood what it means to be part of the single market.

We also saw what the single market meant during the covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, the unilateral measures by member states caused disruption and panic. When on the other hand, the joint procurement of vaccines and the adoption of the Recovery and Resilience Facility showed Europe’s ability to react quickly and effectively when acting together. 

So that is why moments and celebrations like these are important to remember just how far we have come. Why our way of open markets and societies works. And why we need to continue preserving and promoting our single market as a whole. 

Right now, Europe is at a crossroads. Our European way of doing things is being put into question. This is exactly the time when we need to build on our biggest asset. We must speed up investment in Europe, to put the European economy back on a stable path of growth. But for this to happen, we also need to do more to level the playing field, especially as we accelerate the green and digital transitions of our economies. The adoptions of the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act are key steps in the right direction - ones that we can be proud of.

Dear colleagues, we have done a lot in the past decades. We have come together as a Union and we have transformed the lives of millions of Europeans. But thirty years after its launch, the single market is still developing and adapting to new challenges. 

My hope going forward is to recapture this sense of spirit. And in doing-so, renewing our engagement. To bring the single market back to European citizens. And this is how we will be able to rest assured that it will not take another 30 years to finish what we have started.