Tuesday, 24 January 2012

History of European Integration III:
Single European Act

This next step in the European Union’s development went towards a real internal market. Something we — more or less — take for granted today. If you want to use parts of the text, thank you for quoting accordingly.

By the mid-eighties it was high time for the European Communities, meanwhile enlarged three times and now counting twelve member states, to take the internal market into its decisive phase. This was done through the Single European Act, signed in Luxembourg and Den Haag in 1986, and entering into force the following year. 1

A main purpose of the Single European Act was to have a fully functioning internal market by the end of 1992. 2 The means was to boost decision-making in the European Communities, by adding areas for which only a qualified majority within the Council of Ministers was needed in order to pass legislation, as well as by giving the European Parliament more power. Also, the European Court of First Instance was established, 3 and the European Council was officialised. 4

With these institutional modifications, the Single European Act was a major turn towards stronger integration and away from national sovereignty. Facing the ever-increasing competitiveness from especially the USA and East Asia, a common approach from the member states was needed to keep up with these and possible new competitors on the world trade scene, and to avoid a new crisis like in the 1970s. 5

by Bjørn Clasen, 2011

1 Wikipedia article: Single European Act
2 The Europa website: Summaries of EU legislation — The Single European Act
3 Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l’Europe: The Single European Act
4 Historiasiglo20.org: The Single European Act and the road toward the Treaty of the European Union (1986-1992)
5 Hartmut Marhold: History of European Integration, — The “Single European Act”: A revolution in disguise (1985/87) (Course text for the participants of the Certificate and first year of the Master programme of the Centre international de formation européenne

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