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By Philippe Legrain ADD COMMENTS

Most people think Europe’s single market already exists: it was created way back in 1992, wasn’t it? Unfortunately not. While goods are traded freely across borders within Europe, services are not  – and since they account for over two-thirds of the EU economy, Europe’s single market is in effect far from complete.

It is certainly good news, then, that the European parliament has
finally got around to approving the EU services directive, which goes
some way towards liberalising services trade. Depressingly,
though, the directive has been so watered down – and huge sectoral exceptions
carved out of it – that even now Europe will not operate as a single
services market.

This not only makes a mockery of one of the EU’s
defining aims. It is also a huge missed opportunity for Europe’s
struggling economies. Removing the remaining protectionist shackles
from Europe’s hidebound service industries could potentially do more to
stimulate growth than any other initiative from Brussels.

Posted 18 Nov 2006 in Blog

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