European business leaders gathered in Amsterdam yesterday (13 June) to discuss the untapped opportunities of the EU’s Single Market, which allows people, services, goods and capital to move freely in the economy of half a billion consumers served by 30 million companies that together generate about €14 trillion.
The leaders have endorsed the progress that has been made so far, especially recognizing the importance of the Erasmus program that enables students to spend a year abroad and have their degrees recognized back home. Moreover, the businessmen appreciated the cancellation of roaming starting in mid-2017 and other regulations reducing paperwork and costs of doing business in Europe. However, although the economic growth got back on track in the first quarter of this year and the EU grew faster than the US, high unemployment still remains an issue. The European Parliament’s recent study on the economic cost of “non-Europe” estimates that a fully completed Single Market could add more than €1 trillion to the EU economy, creating millions of jobs.
The first step leading to the unlocking of the Single Market’s full potential is unblocking digital economy. National governments want to see the barriers that once restricted offline trade to be removed from online trade as well so that all Europeans can access any service on any device from any EU country. This also includes removing excessive delivery charges, as sending a parcel to another EU country would still qualify as international delivery. Moreover, the EU envisages boosting business activity by removing further barriers and red tape for people who would like to test their ideas and start their own businesses. This should be possible with smaller risk and more financing for young companies within the new collaborative economy.