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Politics in the European Union

Politics in the European Union (5th edn)

Simon Bulmer, Owen Parker, Ian Bache, Stephen George, and Charlotte Burns
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date: 22 March 2023

p. 36019. The Single Marketlocked

p. 36019. The Single Marketlocked

  • Simon Bulmer, Simon BulmerProfessor of Politics, University of Sheffield
  • Owen Parker, Owen ParkerLecturer in European Politics, University of Sheffield
  • Ian Bache, Ian BacheProfessor of Politics, University of Sheffield
  • Stephen GeorgeStephen GeorgeEmeritus Professor of Politics, University of Sheffield
  •  and Charlotte BurnsCharlotte BurnsProfessor, University of Sheffield


This chapter examines the European Union’s (EU’s) original decision to create a single market and the moves to complete the internal market—what became known as the single market programme—in the 1980s. The economic ideal of a common or single European market lies at the core of the EU. The decision to institute a drive to achieve a single internal market by the end of 1992 played a key role in the revival of European integration. The chapter first traces the development of internal market policy before discussing the record of implementation beyond 1992. It then considers recent policy developments in relation to the single market in the context of the Barroso (2005–14) and Juncker (2014–19) Commission presidencies. It also reviews the academic literature on the single market, focusing on the main explanations for its development and some key ideological or normative perspectives on its consequences, including political economy critiques.

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