‘Single-market policies are failing’

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According to a new study, despite 20 years of policies aimed towards creating a single market, the majority of Europeans continue not only to work but also to shop and invest exclusively in their own country.

According to a study published by economic think-tank Bruegel, trade among EU states remains modest and is still two to three times lower than trade between US states. On average, a European country spends 86% on national products and services against only 10% on those from other EU countries. 

Europeans look abroad more easily when investing, placing around 18% of their equity wealth in other EU countries against the average 65% that they invest at home. The share of Europeans working in another EU country, however, is less than 2%. 

Thus, despite European policies aimed at removing obstacles that prevent the mobility of products, capital and people across borders, integration is far from complete. Nevertheless, this varies among member states, with small economies such as Belgium and Austria much more integrated than countries on the periphery, such as Spain, Italy and Greece. 

The study warns that a single currency cannot survive over the long term without a single market. It also stresses that markets for goods, services, and capital are interdependent and that progress in one without similar progress in the others will create economies that are more vulnerable to economic shocks. 

It therefore concludes that internal market policies must be revised to adapt to a more service-oriented economy. The focus should be on favouring competition, facilitating innovation and further integrating value-chains across Europe. 

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