·The role and importance of the free Movement of goods in the internal Market of 21st centuryThe free movement of goods is one of the success stories ofthe European project. It has helped to build the internalmarket from which European citizens and businesses arenow benefi ting and which is at the heart of EU policies.Today’s internal market makes it easy to buy and sellproducts in 27 Member States with a total population of morethan 490 million. It gives consumers a wide choice ofproducts and allows them to shop around for the bestavailable off er. At the same time the free movement ofgoods is good for business. Around 75 % of intra-EU trade isin goods. The single European marketplace that was createdin past decades helps EU businesses to build a strongplatform in an open, diverse and competitive environment.
This internal strength fosters growth andjob creation in the European Union and givesEU businesses the resources they need in orderto be successful in other world markets. A properlyfunctioning internal market for goods isthus a critical element for the current and futureprosperity of the EU in a globalised economy. From a legal perspective the principle of the free movement of goods has been a key element in creating and developing the internal market. It is one of the economic freedoms established by the EC Treaty.
Many of the major restrictions on the free movementof goods have now been removed. Thegroundwork was done, along with the introductionof the single European market in 1993, butthe continuous stream of complaints from citizensand businesses to the Commission underlinesthe fact that even the best eff orts in thepast have not removed all trade barriers. Smalland medium-sized enterprises in particular stillsuff er from them. That is why these companiesoften prefer to concentrate their activities on afew individual Member States instead of thewhole internal market, as they have diffi cultiesin coping with diff erent national rules on technicalrequirements for products that are not yetharmonised. Additionally, market access maybe complicated by diff erences in retail or priceregulations, with which businesses in otherMember States are not familiar.
However, the free movement of goods is notan absolute value. In specifi ccircumstancescertain overriding political aims maynecessitaterestrictions or even prohibitions which,while hampering free trade, serve importantpurposes such as protection of theenvironmentor human health. Against a backgroundof major global developments it comes asnosurprise that a ‘greening’ of the freemovementof goods has taken place in recent years,underliningthe fact that certain grounds for justifi cationmay be viewed diff erently over time.
Internal MarketThe European Unions (EU) internal market (sometimesknown as the single market, formerly the common market)seeks to guarantee the free movement of goods, capital,services, and people – the EUs "four freedoms" – within theEUs 27 member states.
The internal market is intended to be conduciveto increased competition, increasedspecialisation, larger economies of scale,allowing goods and factors of production tomove to the area where they are most valued,thus improving the efficiency of the allocation ofresources.It is also intended to drive economic integrationwhereby the once separate economies of themember states become integrated within asingle EU wide economy. Half of the trade ingoods within the EU is covered by legislationharmonised by the EU.
·The Creation of the internal MarketThe creation of the internal market as a seamless,single market is an ongoing process, with theintegration of the service industry still containinggaps. It also has an increasing international element,with the market represented as one in internationaltrade negotiations. Notably, the internal market isopen to three non-EU states via the EuropeanEconomic Area.
·Customs duties and taxationThe European Union is also a customs union. This means thatmember states have removed customs barriers betweenthemselves and introduced a common customs policy towardsother countries. The overall purpose of the duties is "to ensurenormal conditions of competition and to remove all restrictionsof a fiscal nature capable of hindering the free movement ofgoods within the Common Market".By agreement between the Union and the states concernedAndorra, Monaco, San Marino and Turkey also participate in theEU Customs Union.
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