16 Mar 2023

Single Market Barriers continue to undermine Europe’s competitiveness and green deal efforts

Today’s release of the proposals on the Net-zero Industry and Critical Raw Materials Acts as well as the 30th anniversary of the Single Market communication show persistent single market obstacles for a resilient and competitive Europe. Over 60% of reported barriers have remained unchanged for two decades.[1]


Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Director-General of DIGITALEUROPE said: 

 ‘’We can’t achieve any Green Deal goals nor strengthen Europe’s security without the use and development of digital innovations. Every day, we listen to many of our SMEs complaining about a patchwork of rules across 27 national settings. Instead of growing across borders within Europe, many decide it is easier to move elsewhere to scale. 

Access to data is a clear example of fragmentation: the development of innovative cybersecurity or artificial intelligence tools require vast amounts of data, but shopping around different EU member states is too cumbersome. Last week, three European scale-ups hailing from Spain, Germany, and Norway – all finalists for our 2023 Future Unicorn award – shared with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel the challenges they face in trading clean tech products across the EU. These companies expressed the difficulties of navigating a patchwork of national certification rules.” 

Let’s make sure that companies’ access to available funding for green tech uptake is smooth and hassle-free. We need more detail on how the EU will tap into the tremendous potential of digital enabling solutions for sectors like heat pumps, renewables and raw materials mining and processing. ‘’  


Overall, the following three areas should be particularly addressed to accelerate Single Market integration:  

  • Implementation of EU laws often causes confusion across countries due to varying interpretations, even in areas where the EU aims to harmonize policies, such as with the GDPR and privacy laws. 
  • Member states adding their own laws on top of EU regulations creates regulatory duplication and fragmentation, seen in areas like waste and packaging. 
  • Complying with EU regulations incurs increasing costs, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, despite the regulations being designed to facilitate cross-border trade without extra costs. 


Further background: 

  • DIGITALEUROPE has identified in its report several areas where the EU can do more and prepare itself for the future. Succeeding will require a dramatic shift from business as usual. 
  • DIGITALEUROPE co-signed a letter outlining specific areas where the European Commission must force change in addressing the Single Market. This included clear regulatory recommendations. 



[1] https://single-market-economy.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2023-03/Communication_Single%20Market%20at%2030.pdf


Samia Fitouri
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