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Newsletter October 2023

“You don’t fall in love with a big market”, and yet…

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Matelly S. 2023. « “You don’t fall in love with a big market”, and yet… », Newsletter, Paris : Jacques Delors Institute, October.

This phrase, often repeated by Jacques Delors, is also present in the speech he made to the European Parliament on January 17th 1989, in which he added: “Europe as a partner demands greater cohesion, greater sense of responsibility and more initiative. History is knocking at our door. Are we going to pretend we are deaf?” At that moment, the Iron Curtain separating East and West Europe was already cracking, and the Berlin Wall would fall a few weeks later, facing the European Union with one of the greatest challenges in its history, that of enlargement. The Single European Act relaunched the project for a single market, which was to come into force on January 1st 1993, i.e. an internal market in which people, goods, services and capital could move freely. A key moment in the construction of Europe.

The European Union is undoubtedly at an equally decisive juncture. Faced with war on its doorstep, geopolitical tensions and ongoing changes in globalisation, it must rise to the challenge of energy, digital and security transitions, negotiate a new enlargement – which the 27 will be debating this October 6th in Granada – become less dependent and more resilient, and at the same time strengthen its institutions and respect for the rule of law, rethink its sovereignty and security. Brexit, then the Covid pandemic and now the war show that what unites Europeans, through the close links that the single market has gradually created, is much stronger than what divides them.

Having just celebrated 30 years of existence, this big market must nevertheless adapt to the current complexity in areas as varied as energy, health, industry, innovation and defence, and in the face of Sino-American rivalry and the emergence of new challenges within the European Union, but also in its neighbourhood and around the world. The defence of our European values, but also the assertion of our sovereignty, must be at the heart of these reflections if we are to turn our single market into a lever of power.

Aware of this, the European Council has expressed the wish to receive, in March 2024, a high-level report on the strategic future of the single market. Our President, Enrico Letta, has been commissioned to produce this report, which will serve for the legislature opened by the next European elections in June. Supporting him in this work will be one of the priorities of the entire Jacques Delors Institute team, for which I am delighted to take the lead, in the weeks and months ahead. To ensure that the internal market does not miss its rendezvous with nothing less than History.

Sylvie Matelly 

Director of the Jacques Delors Institute