Now that the European Union has 28 Member States, the European Economic Area is the largest single market in the world. Two-thirds of the overall trade volume within the EU takes place between the Member States themselves. This is particularly advantageous for the export-driven German economy. In 2012, German exports to other EU Member States totalled around 626 billion euros.

Services are becoming an increasingly important component of the European internal market, which has so far mainly focused on trade in goods. Nowadays, services account for 60 to 70% of economic activity within the European Union and act as a crucial driver of employment. Once transposed into national law, the European Services Directive is to facilitate cross-border trade in services and thereby contribute to the completion of the single market.

A well-functioning internal market is an indispensable precondition for ensuring that Europe can further enhance its economic performance. It serves as an essential building block for strengthening the international competitiveness of European companies. In this way, it safeguards jobs and thereby provides social security in the age of globalisation. The principles of free movement of goods, services, capital and persons have helped over 500 million consumers in Europe achieve a higher standard of living. Europeans now benefit from lower prices for goods and services and can travel more easily than they could 20 years ago. This makes the European Economic Area a cornerstone of our economic and social well-being.