2012 OECD Economic Surveys: European Union 2012

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OECD's 2012 Economic Survey of the European Union examines recent economic developments, policy, and prospects, the single market, and mobility and migration in Europe.

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A Single Market for Europe

The creation of a more integrated Single Market is one of the EU’s main policy levers to boost growth and job creation. Despite major progress with integration of EU goods and services markets over the past decades in terms of cross-border trade, it remains lower than within the United States. In recent years, trade has increased mainly from Central and Eastern Europe, while intra-EU15 cross-border economic activity has stalled and some of the progress of financial integration over the past decade now appears to have been unsustainable. The remaining fragmentation of the Single Market prevents Europe from fulfilling its full growth potential and important gains in terms of scale and competition. Product market regulations at national level and their diversity are key obstacles to a more effective Single Market. Many of the institutions and regulations that govern and facilitate integration among EU countries are still organised on national lines. While enormous progress has been made over past decades in building the Single Market, including the landmark Services Directive, weak implementation of the framework has undermined its effects on growth.A step change is required in the priority devoted to achieving a true Single Market in Europe. This should include better identification and more rapid adoption of policies required to make markets more integrated, as well as better implementation and stronger enforcement of Single Market requirements. Product market regulations at national level should be more friendly to cross-border activities. The Single Market needs more effective basic economic institutions for cross-border activity in areas such as taxation, competition policy and patent protection. Specific measures are needed to ensure that there is more cross-border competition and integration in some sectors, particularly network industries such as telecommunication, energy and transport.

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