The Significance of the European Single Market of 1992 to the Information Professional

By James, Sylvia | Special Libraries, Summer 1990 | Go to article overview

The Significance of the European Single Market of 1992 to the Information Professional


James, Sylvia, Special Libraries


* This paper briefly describes the grouping of countries known as the European Economic Community (EEC) and their significant movement towards integration in 1992 known as the Single Market. The history and operations of the EEC are covered along with some notes on the Single European Act and the relationship between the U.S.A. and the Community. In the second half of the paper the author examines the implications, problems, and opportunities of this major economic activity in Europe for the information professional working in a commercial environment in the U.S.A.

The European Economic Community: History, Facts, and Figures

The origins of the EEC go back to the founding in April 1951 of an entity known as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) at the Treaty of Paris, to pool coal and steel production in a Europe still recovering from the devastating effects of World War II. The original six founding countries of the ECSC went on to sign the Treaty of Rome in March 1957, establishing the European Economic Community. These countries were West Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

The Treaty of Rome was aimed at recovering industrial momentum in Western Europe as well as ensuring against further war between the involved countries by seeking eventual political and economic unity.

Unity was to be achieved by committing the member nations to a "Common Market," gradually harmonizing activities until there was a free movement of persons, goods and services, and capital throughout the Western European area, which extends to nearly 2 million square miles. No date was set for the achievement of this aim in 1957. The goals of political, economic, monetary, and defense union were implicit in the treaty.

In 1973 the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark raised the number of Community members to nine, followed by Greece in 1984, and Spain and Portugal in 1986, giving a market of 320 inhabitants over 12 nations. By 1985 it was clear that if the EEC was to compete as a world force in the wider global scene alongside the major markets of the U.S.A. and Japan, acceleration of the integration of the member countries would be necessary. The proposal and timetable for a stronger, more united EEC was revived with a report from the U.K. Commissioner Lord Cockfield and Jacques Delors (then Commissioner, now President), which culminated in the presentation of the Single European Act (SEA) to the European Council in June 1985.

The single European Act was ratified by member countries in 1986, to come into force by January 1986, amending the Treaty of Rome and establishing the end of 1992 as the date for the complete removal of all physical, technical, and fiscal barriers to trade.

There are 279 separate measures to be achieved by the SEA, but the methods being used by member states to adopt the measures will be mutual recognition of national regulations which will have to meet a minimum EEC requirement set by the Commission, Council, and Parliament. (See section below on the working of the EEC.)

The EEC in the European Setting

Austria and Turkey have both formally applied for membership of the EEC and are expected to join sometime during the 1990s.

Other non-EEC western European countries belong to another trade and agricultural grouping known as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), established in 1960. Current members are Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The dramatic lifting of the Iron Curtain and the Warsaw Pact amongst the Communist countries of the Eastern Bloc in Europe during the last quarter of 1989, has brought into question the future of these nations and their relationship with the EEC in particular. The most interesting and momentous move will be the re-unification of East and West Germany and the position of such a reunion in the EEC.

The EEC Relationship with the U. …

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