The internal market is the area without internal boundaries that extends across the 28 EU Member States, where people enjoy four fundamental freedoms:
- free movement of goods;
- free movement of services;
- free movement of capital;
- free movement of people.
The internal market is the largest market in the world with no less than 502 million consumers.
The internal market was introduced in stages:
- the customs union, with the disappearance of customs duty for intra-Community trade with effect from 1 July 1968;
- the Single European Act, adopted in 1986, which set the date for completion of the internal market at 1 January 1993;
- the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 which opened the way for the adoption of the euro as the single currency (currently used by 18 of the 28 EU Member States).
In order to operate these four fundamental freedoms, the EU created new rules (consumer protection, recognition of professional qualifications, posting of staff, etc.) which aimed to harmonise the domestic regulations of
Member States on the basis of the principles of non-discrimination and mutual recognition.
To provide businesses with a level playing field and offer consumers broader choice at better prices, the EU introduced competition laws.
The internal market has considerably boosted intra-Community trade, which accounts for more than two thirds of all Luxembourg's foreign trade.