Completing the Single Market: The European Parliament and Economic Integration, 1979-1989

23-04-2020

During its first decade as a directly elected political institution, from 1979 to 1989, the European Parliament exercised significant influence in shaping the debate and agenda around the concept of completing the ‘single’ or ‘internal’ market of the (then) European Economic Community. Through both its early campaigning for action in this field and its definition and analysis of issues such as the ‘cost of non-Europe’, the Parliament contributed to the political and intellectual climate which led to the launch in 1985 by the European Commission, under its new President, Jacques Delors, of an ambitious programme to complete the single market by 1992. This process was reinforced and facilitated by adoption of the Single European Act (SEA) the following year. The extension of qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council and the introduction of a more significant legislative role for the European Parliament under the SEA enhanced the position of the Parliament in the Community’s ‘institutional triangle’, enabling it to influence the content of law more directly. From 1987 onwards, the Parliament used its new legislative power actively when considering the detailed proposals for completing the single market brought forward by the Delors Commission, with significant debates taking place on the priorities that should attach to various aspects of liberalisation and regulation. The growing success of the single market process led in turn to the Parliament strongly supporting efforts to complement the single market with the creation of a single currency, building momentum for the launch of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). This study, commissioned by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), forms part of an on-going history of the character, role and influence of the European Parliament as a political institution since its creation in 1952.

During its first decade as a directly elected political institution, from 1979 to 1989, the European Parliament exercised significant influence in shaping the debate and agenda around the concept of completing the ‘single’ or ‘internal’ market of the (then) European Economic Community. Through both its early campaigning for action in this field and its definition and analysis of issues such as the ‘cost of non-Europe’, the Parliament contributed to the political and intellectual climate which led to the launch in 1985 by the European Commission, under its new President, Jacques Delors, of an ambitious programme to complete the single market by 1992. This process was reinforced and facilitated by adoption of the Single European Act (SEA) the following year. The extension of qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council and the introduction of a more significant legislative role for the European Parliament under the SEA enhanced the position of the Parliament in the Community’s ‘institutional triangle’, enabling it to influence the content of law more directly. From 1987 onwards, the Parliament used its new legislative power actively when considering the detailed proposals for completing the single market brought forward by the Delors Commission, with significant debates taking place on the priorities that should attach to various aspects of liberalisation and regulation. The growing success of the single market process led in turn to the Parliament strongly supporting efforts to complement the single market with the creation of a single currency, building momentum for the launch of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). This study, commissioned by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), forms part of an on-going history of the character, role and influence of the European Parliament as a political institution since its creation in 1952.

Ulkopuolinen laatija

This study has been written by Professor Laurent Warlouzet of Paris Sorbonne University, at the request of the Directorate for the Library and Knowledge Services, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.