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Policy-Making in the European Union

Policy-Making in the European Union (8th edn)

Helen Wallace, Mark A. Pollack, Christilla Roederer-Rynning, and Alasdair R. Young
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date: 29 September 2023

p. 1095. The Single Market

Central to Brexitlocked

p. 1095. The Single Market

Central to Brexitlocked

  • Alasdair R. Young


This chapter examines the renewal of the single European market (SEM) as a major turning point in European policy-making. It presents the argument that many of the analyses that proliferated in response to the Single European Act (SEA) and the SEM overstated their novelty and understated some of the surrounding factors that helped to induce their ‘success’. The chapter first provides a historical background on how the single market was established before discussing the politics of policy-making in the SEM. It explains how new ideas about market regulation permeated the European Union policy process and facilitated legislative activism and important changes in the policy-implementing processes, culminating in the ‘1992 programme’ to make the single market a reality. Although the task of ‘completing’ the single market remains unfinished, the chapter shows that it has moved to the heart of European integration and altered the pattern of state–market relations in Europe. As a consequence, the single market has played a central role in the Brexit process. The Brexit process has also revealed how far the single market has developed.

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