This report was commissioned by the Belgian Federal Ministry of the Economy (FPS Economy) from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) in 2022, following a competitive tendering procedure. Its main purpose is to support the Belgian authorities in their preparations for the upcoming Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) in the first half of 2024 by providing a comprehensive study on the importance and strategic opportunities of the European single market in the changing geopolitical, technological, socio-economic and environmental context.

To this end, the report seeks to provide a strategic analysis of the European single market, taking stock of its past achievements, assessing its current challenges as well as threats, and considering its potentials and opportunities in the context of current and future societal and economic challenges, the twin transitions and open strategic autonomy.

At the heart of this report lies the belief that the major challenges associated with the European Green Deal and, in the interim, the ambitious targets included in the ‘Fit for 55’ package will require a rebalancing of the functioning of the single market in a way that can both facilitate reaching these goals and, at the same time, ensure the political stability and viability of the European integration project.

In simpler terms, the report explores ways in which it would be possible to recalibrate some aspects of the single market’s functioning in order to make it fit for the next – challenging – decade whilst facilitating the strategic objective of meeting the pressing demands of the green transition, the technological and digital transition, the EU’s aspirations to greater strategic autonomy, and its social sustainability dimension.

Table of contents

Rethinking the European single market_2022