A single market is a type of trade bloc which is composed of a free trade area (for goods) with common policies on product regulation, and freedom of movement of the factors of production (capital and labour) and of enterprise and services. The goal is that the movement of capital, labour, goods, and services between the members is as easy as within them. The physical (borders), technical (standards) and fiscal (taxes) barriers among the member states are removed to the maximum extent possible. These barriers obstruct the freedom of movement of the four factors of production. To remove these barriers the member states need political will and they have to formulate common economic policies.
A common market is a first stage towards a single market, and may be limited initially to a free trade area with relatively free movement of capital and of services, but not so advanced in reduction of the rest of the trade barriers.
The European Economic Community was the first example of a both common and single market, but it was an economic union since it had additionally a customs union.
Benefits and costs
A single market has many benefits. With full freedom of movement for all the factors of production between the member countries, the factors of production become more efficiently allocated, further increasing productivity.
For both business within the market and consumers, a single market is a very competitive environment, making the existence of monopolies more difficult. This means that inefficient companies will suffer a loss of market share and may have to close down. However, efficient firms can benefit from economies of scale, increased competitiveness and lower costs, as well as expect profitability to be a result. Consumers are benefited by the single market in the sense that the competitive environment brings them cheaper products, more efficient providers of products and also increased choice of products. What is more, businesses in competition will innovate to create new products; another benefit for consumers.
Transition to a single market can have short term negative impact on some sectors of a national economy due to increased international competition. Enterprises that previously enjoyed national market protection and national subsidy (and could therefore continue in business despite falling short of international performance benchmarks) may struggle to survive against their more efficient peers, even for its traditional markets. Ultimately, if the enterprise fails to improve its organization and methods, it will fail. The consequence may be unemployment or migration.
List of single markets
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