The European Union’s industrial centre and urban regions benefit the most from the bloc’s single market, according to a study cited by Reuters. The Netherlands, as well as Germany and Austria, are some of the countries that reap the most benefits from the system. “For countries like the Netherlands or Austria, the internal market is gold, since they have competitive sectors but are reliant on exports because they have small domestic markets,” one of the study’s authors said. Inequalities highlighted in this report may shape EU politics ahead of the upcoming European elections.
Introduced in 1992, the single market allows for the free movement of goods, capital and services across the members states of the EU. The system aimed to do away with regulations that hindered trade within the bloc, giving Europe the possibility to compete with larger economies, such as the U.S. and Japan. But the 2007 financial crisis continues to negatively affect some countries while simultaneously helping others.
For instance, a report shows that Germany has benefited the most from the single market, earning an extra €86 billion a year. As a result, each German was on average €1,046 richer. “Not everyone profits equally from the single market, but everyone does gain,” President of the Germany-based foundation Aart De Geus said. However, southern and eastern European countries benefit far less than their north-western neighbours. These countries struggle with low growth and high unemployment, which may have motivated their support for extremist national parties.
As a result, many economists and politicians in southern Europe are calling for wealthier countries to assist their economies, to take more responsibility against a German political establishment that is fiscally conservative.