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The EU's Single Market: At Your Service?

  • Line Vogt
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    While the single market has largely been achieved for the EU market for goods, the services sector has lagged behind. This has resulted in sluggish activity, low productivity growth, high prices, that show a wide dispersion and relatively high inflation in this sector. Both the OECD product market regulation study and the European Commission study on internal market barriers conclude that there are large barriers to trade between the EU countries. Since two-thirds of total output in the EU comes from the services sector it is crucial for the EU to pursue reforms of this sector. The proposed Directive on services in the internal market, also called the services directive, will be a helpful tool towards establishing a single market for services if it is implemented as proposed. The European citizens will gain from large welfare effects associated with the convergence of prices towards the best performers and faster trend economic growth. A watering down of the directive will however reduce the beneficial effects and should be avoided. This Working Paper expands on material presented in the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of the Euro Area ( Le marché unique de l'UE : À votre service? A l’inverse des biens, pour lesquels le marché unique est aujourd’hui devenu une réalité, l’avancée vers un marché unique des services marque le pas. Du fait de ce retard, ce secteur connaît une activité hésitante, une faible croissance de la productivité, des prix élevés (qui sont de surcroît très différents d’un pays à l’autre) et une relativement forte inflation. Les études réalisées par l’OCDE sur la réglementation des marchés de produits et par la Commission européenne sur les entraves au marché intérieur concluent de conserve à la présence de puissants obstacles au commerce de services entre pays de l’Union européenne. Dans la mesure où les services constituent les deux tiers de la production dans l’Union européenne, il est capital pour l’Union européenne de poursuivre les réformes dans ce secteur. Le projet de directive sur les services dans le marché intérieur, plus communément appelée directive services, constituera un outil précieux pour progresser vers la mise en place d’un marché unique des services, à condition qu’elle soit mise en œuvre en l’état. Les citoyens de l’Union européenne y gagneront une plus forte croissance économique et de considérables gains de bien-être grâce à la convergence des prix vers les niveaux qui sont ceux des pays les plus performants. Toute édulcoration de la directive en réduirait les avantages et devrait être évitée. Ce Document de travail prolonge des travaux réalisés pour l’Etude économique de l’OCDE de la zone euro, 2005 (

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 449.

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    Date of creation: 07 Oct 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:449-en
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