The Performance of the Single Market for Goods After 25 Years

This report quantifies the gains from European trade integration, but also highlights potentials for further gains by eliminating remaining shortcomings of the Single Market for goods related to incorrect or incomplete transposition, the application of harmonised rules as well as the functioning of the mutual recognition principle. The study confirms that the Single Market has delivered benefits in terms of increased trade, competition, productivity and ultimately welfare. Accession has been a key driver for trade effects in the period considered (1995-2014). The results further indicate that improvements in transposition and enforcement of Single Market rules could be a driver for trade, productivity and welfare gains in the long run. Apart from pro-competitive effects, these gains would also come about through increased specialisation and greater intra-EU production integration. In this respect the study offers evidence of – so far less obvious – additional benefits stemming from improvements of institutional quality. Improvements in regulatory institutional quality have also been a relevant driver of pro-competitive effects on market structure as well as productivity levels in accession countries. Furthermore, differences in the quality of the Single Market legal framework are found to matter for firms' organisational choices for their intra-EU production operations via (intra-firm) vertical integration and cross-border outsourcing, in the context of incomplete contracts.