THE EUROPEAN SINGLE MARKET
The Single Market is a joint trade zone where EU member states can enjoy the benefits of collective commercial cooperation with the free movement of goods, services and people across the bloc. Accessing the full potential of the market comes with strict regulatory constraints. It requires an obligatory commitment to the four freedoms: Capital, Goods, Services and People. As a customs union, the EU impose on its members a common tariff on imports from non-member countries. And, although they automatically benefit from any trade deals that the EU strike with other countries, member states cannot set their own tariff levels. Technically, these policies are carefully designed to curb trade costs between European member states. But, at the same time they are making it less attractive to countries outside the EU bloc, looking to gain an advantage in the continent by introducing better goods and services, at a competitive price. That's why there is a complete set of regulations on packaging, and safety standards, covering a whole host of industries and products on everything from the use of chemicals, to food, bedding and toys. Whereas the single market for goods has existed since 1992, the one for services is still a work in progress. Thus, before Britain’s referendum to leave the EU in 2016, Europe's finance chief Elżbieta Bieńkowska made a shocking admission by stating that the bloc’s much-vaunted Single Market does not work well for countries like the UK. It’s important to highlight that the service industry makes up 80% of the British economy, and accounts for almost a third of all Britain's exports to the continent. The UK has thus run a trade surplus with the EU in services for every year since 2005, with Britain exporting $20 billion more to the continent than it had imported in 2014.
Being part of the Single Market gives UK businesses unfettered access to the EU's 500 million customers. In return, this allows UK consumers and companies to purchase goods and services freely from across the continent. Of course, it is possible for the UK to have access to the Single Market without being a member of it, or being part of the customs union. The UK could negotiate a deal with the EU that will allow it access for trade with the bloc. Overall, the EU has 56 free trade agreements with countries around the world, and is in the process of negotiating several more. Recently, after seven long years of negotiations Canada has finally signed a landmark trade pact with the EU. Known as CETA - Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement - it was delayed because a small Belgian region refused to endorse the agreement. The Belgian region of Wallonia opposed the deal on grounds it will dilute its environmental standards and effect labour laws. Wallonia boasts one cow for every three humans, and it's lavishly subsidised farmers are wary of cheap Canadian competition. However, before CETA can be implemented fully it must be ratified by 38 regional and national EU parliaments. With any trade deals there are bound to be winners and losers, agreements and disagreements, acceptance and rejections. But overall, how beneficial is the European Single Market to the UK? And what will the economic consequence be, if Britain decides to leave the European Single Market? Some people are under the view that the impact will be huge. Whereas, on the other side of the pendulum the UK would have signed new trade agreements with non-EU member states. Consequently, this will open global markets deemed impossible to trade with if the country is still a member of the European bloc.