Deepening the Single Market to advance our process of integration and creating the best possible conditions for Europe to return to sustained and sustainable economic expansion and promote innovation are the main practical implications of competition policy in the EU. But this is not about the economy only. Building the Single Market is very much a political challenge. It is about tearing down barriers, building bridges, and showing what Europe can do if we play as a team.
Since the start of my mandate, the EU has gone through a period of serious economic difficulties. These have been difficult years for Europe's companies, for our workforce, and for consumers. In this juncture, the recurrent risk has been to yield to protectionist and populist views regarding the role of competition authorities and their alleged interference in the way markets should function.
We have resisted with great determination repeated calls for weaker enforcement on the assumption that laxer control would help companies weather the storm. Competition policy is a pillar of Europe's internal market and the internal market is the single largest asset Europe has to create value and jobs. It is our decisive competitive advantage.
It has never been more vital than in these years – marked by a severe recession with serious economic and social implications in Europe and in other world regions – to preserve the best possible competition conditions and keep markets open, vibrant, and innovation-friendly.