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Functioning single market increases the competitiveness of European industry

During Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Competitiveness Council will be discussing the links between the single market and industrial policy and the transition to a climate-neutral economy. Finland will advance the guidelines on growth, competitiveness and jobs defined in the Strategic Agenda 2019–2024, adopted by the European Council in June 2019, and in Finland’s Presidency Programme. The EU’s Strategic Agenda sets priorities for strengthening the Union’s economic foundation, protecting its citizens and building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe.

A functioning single market is necessary to ensure the competitiveness of European businesses. It gives the EU more weight in trade negotiations and attracts investments to Europe. The single market and industrial policy should enable sustainable growth, changes to business environment, and ultimately the wellbeing of citizens. A functioning single market requires skilled workforce and taking account of the transformation of work and the social dimension. It is supported by policies that consider the social impacts of the changing economy and technological advances.

Comprehensive approach to single market needed

Finland’s Presidency aims to build awareness of the links between the single market, industrial policy, digitalisation and trade policy and promote an approach where the policies are developed in a comprehensive way. The EU should anticipate future opportunities and challenges and apply targeted policy measures. It should also have a horizontal forward-looking strategy that promotes sustainable growth and competitiveness.

The services market, especially, is evolving fast, spurred by digitalisation, innovations and the increasing service orientation in manufacturing. Services market regulations should be at a sufficiently general level to allow rapid adjustments to technological advances. The EU institutions and member states should pay more attention to achieving consistent, efficient and transparent implementation of the single market legislation.

This would give the EU a real chance of creating a functioning single market especially for services. A functioning single market makes European businesses more competitive, boosting their chances of success on the global market. Competition also benefits European consumers and business since it offers greater choice, keeps prices in check and helps produce innovative goods and services of high quality.

Innovation and new technologies boost competitiveness

Development of innovations and innovative technologies that promote climate neutrality is vital for the future competitiveness of European industry. In particular, Europe could gain a leading position in economic value chains with the development and rapid introduction of new technologies.

In order to promote innovation and new business opportunities in the EU, we should strengthen high-level international skills and promote research, product development and the formation of new networks bringing together skills in various sectors. A modern industrial policy should take into account links with other policy sectors, particularly those of environment, energy, climate, bioeconomy and circular economy. The EU should also tap into the opportunities created by digitalisation and artificial intelligence.

The EU ministers responsible for competitiveness will meet in Brussels on 26–27 September 2019 to discuss how single market, industrial and research policies together can boost sustainable growth and competitiveness in Europe.

The Competitiveness Council on 28–29 November will continue the discussions started in September regarding the future of the single market, industrial policy and the digital economy.


Isabella Paju, Senior Specialist, [email protected] tel. + 358 29 504 7015

Maija Heikkilä, Specialist, [email protected] tel. +358 29 504 7003