Understanding non-tariff barriers in the single market

09-10-2017

Despite the achievements of single market integration, many non-tariff barriers (NTBs) persist, preventing realisation of its full economic potential. These arise from laws, technical regulations and practices, and create obstacles for trade. NTBs can be of a general character, such as problems with the implementation and enforcement of EU law at the national level, missing or differing e-government solutions, or complex VAT requirements in intra-EU trade. NTBs can also be sector-specific and concern only specific markets for goods, services or retail. Accordingly, the EU is tackling NTBs with a mix of general and sectoral initiatives, often cutting across various policy areas. The Juncker Commission, now at the mid-term of its mandate, made deepening the single market one of its main priorities. The Commission's single market and digital single market strategies address many NTBs. However, greater Member State involvement, stronger monitoring, and increased political emphasis on the single market are likely to be needed to remove the barriers and deepen single market integration. NTBs are also increasingly mentioned in the context of debates on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. The impacts of Brexit on the single market and NTBs are as yet unclear, but early analysis points to the likelihood of legal uncertainty and the need to address a multitude of often challenging issues.

Despite the achievements of single market integration, many non-tariff barriers (NTBs) persist, preventing realisation of its full economic potential. These arise from laws, technical regulations and practices, and create obstacles for trade. NTBs can be of a general character, such as problems with the implementation and enforcement of EU law at the national level, missing or differing e-government solutions, or complex VAT requirements in intra-EU trade. NTBs can also be sector-specific and concern only specific markets for goods, services or retail. Accordingly, the EU is tackling NTBs with a mix of general and sectoral initiatives, often cutting across various policy areas. The Juncker Commission, now at the mid-term of its mandate, made deepening the single market one of its main priorities. The Commission's single market and digital single market strategies address many NTBs. However, greater Member State involvement, stronger monitoring, and increased political emphasis on the single market are likely to be needed to remove the barriers and deepen single market integration. NTBs are also increasingly mentioned in the context of debates on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. The impacts of Brexit on the single market and NTBs are as yet unclear, but early analysis points to the likelihood of legal uncertainty and the need to address a multitude of often challenging issues.