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European Law Monitor NewsTen ways in which Europeans have benefited from the Single Market



1. Increased prosperity: over the last 15 years the Single Market has increased the EU's prosperity by 2.15% of GDP. In 2006 alone this meant an overall increase of €240 billion - or €518 for every EU citizen - compared to a situation without the Single Market.

2. More jobs: 2.75 million extra jobs have been created over the period 1992-2006 as a result of the Single Market.

3. Easier to travel and shop: EU citizens can travel across most of the EU without carrying a passport and without being stopped for checks at borders. Shoppers have full consumer rights when shopping outside their country and there are no limits on what they can buy and take with them for personal use.

4. More opportunities to live, work and study abroad: more than 15 million EU citizens have moved to other EU countries to work or to enjoy their retirement, benefiting from the transferability of social benefit, while 1.5 million young people have completed part of their studies in another Member State with the help of the Erasmus programme.

5. Wider choice of products and services: 73% of EU citizens think the Single Market has contributed positively to the range of products on offer, while the establishment of common standards has led to safer and environmentally friendlier products, such as food, cars and medicines.

6. Lower prices: the opening up of national markets and the resultant increase in competition has driven down prices of, for example, internet access, air travel and telephone calls (the latter having been reduced on average by 40% over the period 2000-2006).

7. Less red tape: rather than adding to red tape, Single Market rules often replace a large number of complex and different national laws with a single framework, reducing bureaucracy for citizens, and compliance costs for businesses, who pass those savings on to consumers. It has also become easier to start or buy a business: the average cost for setting up a new company in the former EU-15 has fallen from €813 in 2002 to €554 in 2007, and the time needed to register a company administratively was reduced from 24 days in 2002 to about 12 days today. But more progress is needed.

8. Huge potential market: any business in the EU automatically has close to 500 million potential customers on its doorstep. This allows larger businesses to benefit from enormous economies of scale, while new markets have been opened up to small- and medium-sized businesses which previously would have been dissuaded from exporting by the cost and hassle.

9. Much easier to do business: trade within the EU has risen by 30% since 1992. The absence of border bureaucracy has cut delivery times and reduced costs. Before the frontiers came down, the tax system alone required 60 million customs clearance documents annually: these are no longer needed.

10. Better value for taxpayers: as a result of more open and competitive public procurement rules, governments have more money to spend on priorities such as health and education. For example, the price of railway rolling stock has dropped, with studies pointing at savings from 10% to 30%.

For more information on the single market see:
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/index_en.htm