• Competitiveness & Innovation

Europe’s industrial & technology leaders kick off campaign, calling for renewed integration to strengthen the EU Single Market

Nearly forty years after its first call for the Single Market, ERT launches a new campaign, with analysis, recommendations & 30 stories by leaders

BRUSSELS, 7 December 2021: As the European Union is actively pursuing feedback from citizens through its ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe, this morning the leaders of some of Europe’s most prominent global companies weighed in with their views on what needs to be done to improve the EU. Their input comes in the shape of a new ERT publication entitled Renewing the dynamic of European integration: Single Market Stories by Business Leaders.



The benefits of removing national barriers to the Single Market for goods and services could amount to over €700 billion by the end of 2029 – a sum similar to the investments promised under the NextGenerationEU package.

The publication released today includes in-depth analysis and recommendations to better manage, revise and deepen the integration of the Single Market. It is focussed on four key categories: environment & consumption, energy, digital and finance & capital.

Thirty years, thirty stories

Each of the thirty stories in the publication is told by a Member of ERT, highlighting a problem which relates to the Single Market, citing specific country examples and data. These range from issues around labelling, recycling initiatives, the free movement of waste and cross-border flow of renewable energy to challenges around emerging areas such as cloud computing, health data and the scaling up of hydrogen, to name but a few.


Pascal Lamy, Honorary President of the Institute Jacques Delors said “Obstacles and obsolete restrictions persist while immense challenges are knocking at our door Let us vigorously resume the task of deepening our internal market with the new tools suited to the economy of tomorrow. It is there that we will find, as Jacques Delors did 30 years ago, a source of job growth and renewed progress.”

In poll results4 published last month, there was unanimous consensus among the business leaders in ERT that the free circulation of people, goods, services, and capital is not fully completed. CEOs identified services as the area that is furthest behind the goal of full integration, but even for goods, respondents believe the Single Market is only 79% complete, with much room to improve.

Back to the Future

Today’s announcement marks a return to the original roots of ERT – as it was first established in 1983 by 17 European industrialists, to call for the creation of the Single Market. In the intervening years, the membership of ERT has expanded to now count around 60 CEOs and Chairs of some of Europe’s best known industrial and technology companies.

The publication was released at a special event organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and included an intervention by European Commission Executive Vice-President Margarethe Vestager.

ERT is not alone in calling for more progress in the breadth, depth and governance of the Single Market. In the past two years, business associations such as BusinessEurope, Eurochambres and Eurocommerce have all issued papers urging renewed political investment in the Single Market.

The EU already has a grand vision for the green and digital transitions which we fully support. This publication we are launching today is about addressing the internal problems – both present and emerging – that erode the EU’s ability to behave as a truly unified trade bloc. The stories we have gathered from 30 business leaders in 13 countries highlight real problems that need fixing and they offer ideas for how the Single Market can be brought to the next level. This is our contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Martin Brudermüller
  • Martin Brudermüller
  • Chair of ERT’s Competitiveness & Innovation Committee and Chairman of the Board of Directors of BASF SE
The Single Market is one of the EU’s greatest achievements. It introduced harmony into so many facets of European life, boosting prosperity and making the EU a more cohesive political and economic entity. But divergent approaches are creeping in at national level, chipping away at all of that progress. Right now, the headwinds facing the EU’s competitiveness are powerful, so its integrity as a bloc will determine how it fares on the world stage. In that regard, reinvesting effort into the Single Market is the first enabler for strengthening our open strategic autonomy and propelling economic recovery in the coming decade.
Carl-Henric Svanberg
  • Carl-Henric Svanberg
  • ERT Chair and Chairman of AB Volvo
While companies are intensely innovating to respond to global challenges, such as establishing resilient healthcare systems in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency and the digital transition, the public sector needs to fully play its part and help create the conducive environment for business to innovate and grow in Europe. Modernising the governance of the Single Market is urgently required – governments should now re-invigorate the process of European integration and improve Europe’s position in the world.
Frans van Houten
  • Frans van Houten
  • CEO of Royal Philips