Too many EU trade barriers, warn MEPs

MEPs have lamented that far too many obstacles exist to trading across the EU - nearly 25 years since the expiry of a target for completing the single market.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

22 Apr 2016

A quarter of a century after the Single European Act came into force, Parliament's internal market committee has called for a renewed push on eliminating the so-called 'non-tariff barriers' that stand in the way of cross-border trade within the EU.

Tariffs were eliminated half a century ago, yet technical standards and red tape continue to prevent the single market from achieving its full potential. 

The committee adopted a report drafted by European Conservatives and Reformists MEP Daniel Dalton.


Afterwards, Dalton said; "Businesses and consumers may no longer have to pay tariffs when buying or selling from other EU countries, but they do often face a nightmare of red tape."

He added, "For many people, buying a product elsewhere in the EU is not much easier than buying it from outside due to the large number of obstacles and barriers that exist."

As well as a drive to ensure better enforcement of rules that already exist, Dalton has criticised governments who continue to adopt protectionism in domestic markets.

As a result, he says, many businesses and consumers see little difference between EU and non-EU markets in terms of bureaucratic hurdles that must be overcome.

Meanwhile, pressure on the concept of free trade is growing in Germany, according to a new survey which says that only one out of five (17 per cent) believes that the planned TTIP transatlantic free trade agreement is a good thing. 

One in three Germans (33 per cent) reject the agreement completely. Only 18 per cent of the US population opposes the TTIP. Concerns about the loss of regulatory quality, which citizens on both sides of the Atlantic criticise, are one reason why they reject it.

These are the findings that emerged from a representative survey conducted by the international institution YouGov on behalf of the Bertelsmann Stiftung that polled US and German residents on the topics of free trade and the TTIP. 

In comparison to a Bertelsmann Stiftung survey from 2014, the number of Germans that agree with free trade in general - not just the TTIP - has declined. 

Two years ago a significant majority favoured free trade in general (88 per cent for; 9 per cent against). 

According to the poll, this approval has tumbled. Currently only about half of Germans (56 per cent) still consider free trade a good idea. 

Warning of possible consequences, Aart de Geus, Chai and CEO of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, said; "Support for trade agreements is fading in a country that views itself as the global export champion.

"Trade is a key driver of the German economy. If it weakens, Germany's economic power as well as its labour market could falter."


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