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History of the Single Market

1951 – The European Coal and Steal Community is established by France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. A treaty to tie their coal and steel industries closely together is signed.

1957 – France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands sign the Treaty of Rome, creating the European Economic Community (EEC, later the European Union) with its “common market”.

1985 –The European Commission publishes a comprehensive blueprint and timetable for welding together the fragmented national markets to create a genuinely frontier-free Single Market by the end of 1992. The Schengen Agreement was signed, starting the process of dismantling EU internal border control.

1987- The Single Market Act comes into force clearing the way for decisions and legislation allowing for common laws governing the Single Market.

1986-92 – The EU adopts nearly 280 pieces of legislation to allow 12 sets of national regulations to be replaced by one common European law which would be agreed to in 12 Member States.

1991 – The Maastricht Treaty is signed. It was one of the foundation stones for the establishment of the euro.

1993 – On 1 January, the Single Market becomes a reality for 12 EU Member States: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and the UK.

1995 – Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU and become part of the Single Market. The first abolition of border controls in accordance with the Schengen Agreement comes into effect between Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Portugal. Over time the Schengen area has expanded so that it now includes 26 countries.

1997 – The Amsterdam Treaty abolished physical barriers across the Single Market.

1999 – A market works better when everyone is using the same money. On 1 January 1999 the euro was created for financial (non-cash) transactions.

2002 – The euro is a reality for the citizens of Europe as its notes and coins become legal tender from 1 January 2002.

2004 – Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia join the EU and become part of the Single Market.

2007 – Bulgaria and Romania join the EU and become members of the Single Market.


2012 – The end of 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Single Market, now consisting of 27 countries, and over 500 million people.


2013 – Croatia will become the 28th Member State of the EU.