Celebrating 25 years of the Single Market

The Single Market has helped to create millions of new jobs, it has delivered a wider range of products and services with higher quality and safety standards for consumers and has increased Europe’s prosperity. And although it’s has been such a huge success, it does not mean it’s a given. It’s something we need to fight for!

Recently, the Single Market has come under pressure. We are facing a number of challenges in some Member States whose unilateral decisions to introduce new legislation threaten to create new barriers to trade. In Year 25 of the Single Market, these legislations are highly problematic and deserve to be challenged. Take the case of Lithuania where print distributors are being forced to tear out  pages or hide pages with stickers which contain alcohol advertising from international magazines, such as the National Geographic, after the country introduced a alcohol advertising ban in January (video on @reuters). Lithuania is a small country and it is hard to believe publishers will print special editions (without advertising) just to make a new local edition! Apart from effectively limiting the free flow of goods, this could eventually translate into a dramatic loss of choice for Lithuanian consumers in terms of a greatly reduced availability of international magazines. By the same token, we are urging the Irish Government not to go down a similar road with the draft Alcohol Bill that threatens – amongst other things – to heavily restrict the future advertising of our products. While there can, and should, be debate about how best to achieve some of the objectives mentioned in such a legislation, it is clear and highly concerning that some of the proposed means are disproportionate in the sense that they would damage and undermine the proper functioning of the Single Market.

Like many, we have “taken the road to Sibiu” and are developing our thoughts about what kind of Europe we want in the future. An economically integrated Europe, with a well-functioning Single Market will most surely feature high on our list of priorities.

In the meantime, we have joined forces with FoodDrinkEurope, which has launched its new “Pantries of Europe” campaign to mark the 25th anniversary of the Single Market. I would like to share what Mella Frewen, Head of FoodDrinkEurope underlined on that occasion: “As the Single Market turns 25, it is the perfect time to reflect on the tremendous choice, incredible diversity, high quality and sheer great taste of the food and drink available throughout Europe. And it is time to start recognising that this would not be possible without the EU level rules which make the Single Market.”

Everybody can participate in this campaign by taking a picture of their favourite European food and drink products in their pantry and posting it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the #PantriesofEurope hashtag. We have already shared a picture of our office pantry with a selection of bottles from the 47 product categories and 250+ GIs from all over Europe.

Now it’s your turn!

Ulrich Adam*

*In his capacity as permanent representative of SPRL ADLOR Consulting