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Single Market Scoreboard

Trade in Goods and Services

Trade in Goods and Services

Trade in goods and services between EU Member States accounts for over two thirds of their overall trade.

The indicators reflect for each country:

  • overall import/export performance
  • how integrated the economy is into European value chains
  • how open the economy is to imports
  • how competitive the economy is in terms of exports (goods and services sold abroad)
  • internal demand.

More information on trade in goods and services.

Trade in goods and services and the Single Market – why does it matter?

Openness to imports (from both within and outside the EU) is a key measure of integration into European and international value chains and competition.

Higher values reflect an economy that is more open, competitive and integrated, in relation to its size.

Changes over time may indicate policy measures that reduce trade barriers or improve business conditions for trade.

Key messages

  • There were moderate changes in 2019 in trade integration in the EU. Intra EU trade in services increased slightly in majority of Member States, while trade in goods slightly decreased. Integration continues to be significantly higher in the goods sector than in services.
  • While integration in services fell in just 5 countries in 2019, integration in goods fell in 22 countries. These changes were however modest.
  • In some sectors, weak competition and disproportionate regulatory restrictions are preventing consumers and firms from harnessing the full benefits of integration into the Single Market.

Note: When the 2021 edition of the Scoreboard was being drawn up, 2019 was the latest year completely covering EU 27 Member States. Data sources: Eurostat, Balance of payments by country - annual data (BPM6) [bop_c6_a], Last update: 08-04-2021.

Overall performance

The indicators below (based on official Eurostat statistics) reflect each country’s performance in trade integration and market openness to imports:

  • relative to overall GDP, and
  • change in 2018-2019

Overall performance (all 8 indicators combined)

 
 

A country’s performance across all 8 indicators is calculated by scoring each indicator in chart 1 as follows:

  • red = 1,
  • yellow = 2, and
  • green = 3.

The colours on the map thus represent the average of these scores:

  • red: ≤ 1.5,
  • yellow 1.6 to 2.4,
  • green: ≥ 2.5.

This is only a partial view of EU countries’ trade integration performance and prospects.

Changes in these indicators are caused not just by national implementation of Single Market policies and laws, but also by other factors, including general economic developments in the EU and worldwide.

Performance indicators

 
 Above averageAverageBelow average
[1] EU trade integration in goods (levels)> 28.4%28.4% – 14.2%< 14.2%
[2] EU trade integration in goods (change)> -1.4%-1.4 % – -2.8%< -2.8%
[3] EU trade integration in services (levels)> 10.6%10.6% – 5.3%< 5.3%
[4] EU trade integration in services (change)> 5.3%5.3% – 2.7%< 2.7%
[5] Openness to imports of goods (levels)> 43.6%43.6% – 21.8%< 21.8%
[6] Openness to imports of goods (change)> -1.1%-1.1% – -2.2%< -2.2%
[7] Openness to imports of services (levels)> 16.7%16.7% – 8.4%< 8.4%
[8] Openness to imports of services (change)> 9.3%9.3% – 4.7%< 4.7%

Indicators 1 and 3 – levels of integration
(bands set on the basis of the EU-level trade integration index).

Indicators 5 and 7 – levels of openness
(bands set on the basis of the market openness index index – within and outside the EU).

Indicators 2, 4, 6 and 8 – change in these levels
(bands set on the basis of a weighted EU average).

Please note that share of trade in GDP is determined by many factors, including among others the size of Member State's internal market (smaller countries trade more), number of borders with other Member States (e.g. Member States with borders with non-EU countries), structure of economy, and many others.

Indicator [1]: EU trade integration in goods (levels)

The chart shows the percentage of a country’s GDP represented by trade in goods with other EU countries (average of imports and exports).

 
 

The chart reflects:

  • overall import and export performance
  • degree of integration into European value chains
  • levels of openness, competitiveness and internal demand.

Higher values show better results on these points.

Indicator [2]: EU trade integration in goods (change)

The chart shows percentage changes in trade integration indices for goods (average value of imports and exports as a share of GDP) between 2018 and 2019.

 

Positive values show:

  • relative shares of imports/exports have increased
  • the country is more integrated into European value chains
  • (possibly) policy measures have reduced obstacles to goods trade.

Negative values show the opposite trend.

The indicator displayed above may reflect changes in trade integration levels as well as other economic dynamics.

Indicator [3]: EU trade integration in services (levels)

The chart shows the percentage of a country’s GDP represented by trade in services (financial and non-financial) with other EU countries (average of imports and exports).

 

The chart reflects:

  • overall import and export performance
  • degree of integration into European value chains
  • levels of openness, competitiveness and internal demand.

Higher values show better results on these points.

Indicator [4]: EU trade integration in services (change)

The charts shows percentage changes in trade integration indices for services (average value of imports and exports as a proportion of GDP) between 2018 and 2019.

 

Positive values show:

  • relative shares of imports/exports have increased
  • the country is more integrated into European value chains
  • (possibly) policy measures have reduced obstacles to trade in services.

Negative values show an opposite trend.

The indicator displayed above may reflect changes in trade integration levels as well as other economic dynamics.

Indicator [5]: Openness to imports of goods (levels)

The chart shows the value of all goods imports – from any country, inside or outside the EU – as a share of GDP.

 

It reflects:

  • The manufacturing sector’s overall degree of openness, competitiveness and integration into international value chains.

Higher values show better results on these points.

For a breakdown of imports by source (within or outside the EU), see Facts and figures.

Indicator [6]: Openness to imports of goods (change)

The chart shows percentage changes in openness to import goods (value of all goods imported as a share of GDP), 2018 and 2019.

 

Positive values show that:

  • the value of goods imports as a share of GDP rose between 2018 and 2019
  • the economy has become more open, competitive or integrated into international value chains.
  • policy measures have reduced obstacles to goods imports (possibly).

Negative values show an opposite trend.

The indicator displayed above may reflect changes in trade integration levels as well as other economic dynamics.

Indicator [7]: Openness to imports of services (levels)

The chart shows the value of all imports of services – from any country, inside or outside the EU – as a share of GDP.

 

It reflects:

  • The service sector’s overall openness, competitiveness and integration into international value chains.

Higher values show better results on these points.

For a breakdown of imports by source (within or outside the EU), see Facts and figures.

Indicator [8]: Openness to imports of services (change)

The chart shows percentage changes in openness to imports services (value of all services imports as a share of GDP), 2018 and 2019.

 

Positive values show that:

  • the value of services imports as a share of GDP increased between 2018 and 2019
  • the economy has become more open, competitive or integrated into international value chains
  • policy measures have reduced obstacles to services imports (possibly).

Negative values show an opposite trend.

The indicator displayed above may reflect changes in trade integration levels as well as other economic dynamics.

Priorities

  • To increase trade integration in services, cross-border provision of services, recognition of qualifications and establishment outside the home country.
  • Structural reforms are needed at EU and national level to remove regulatory, structural and behavioural obstacles to business opportunities, innovation opportunities and investments, including those made available through new technologies and new business models and through stronger integration in EU and global value chains. The single market strategy and the digital single market strategy have tackled these obstacles, and the 2020 EU Industrial Policy Strategy will continue to do so. Related reforms at the national and euro area level are promoted in the European Semester.
  • To support the objectives defined in the communication Next Generation EU, i.e. ensure that the Single Market works properly again, a strengthened Semester with the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and the need to focus investments in the twin green and digital transition.

Facts and figures

Please note that share of trade in GDP is determined by many factors, including among others the size of Member State's internal market (smaller countries trade more), number of borders with other Member States (e.g. Member States with borders with non-EU countries), structure of economy, and many others.

Imports of goods in 2019
(from within and outside the EU)

 

Total value of goods imports as a share of GDP in 2019, by source (other EU countries or non-EU countries).

Monthly imports of goods between January 2019 and December 2020
(from within and outside the EU)

 

Monthly total value of imported goods at the EU-27 level between January 2019 and December 2020 (index: January 2019 = 100).

Imports of services in 2019
(from within and outside the EU)

 

Total value of services imports as a share of GDP in 2019, by source (other EU countries or non-EU countries).

Exports of goods in 2019
(to EU countries and outside the EU)

 

Total value of goods exports as a share of GDP in 2019, by market (other EU countries or non-EU countries).

Monthly exports of goods between January 2019 and December 2020
(from within and outside the EU)

 

Monthly total value of exported goods at the EU-27 level between January 2019 and December 2020 (index: January 2019 = 100).

Exports of services in 2019
(to EU countries and outside the EU)

 

Monthly total value of exported goods at the EU-27 level between January 2019 and August 2021 (index: January 2019 = 100).

Achievements

  • Intra-EU trade progressed until the financial and economic crises hit all EU Member States and sectors, leading to a sharp decline in trade in 2009. Intra-EU trade in goods suffered a bigger dip than trade in services but quickly recovered. After a period of stagnation in the early 2010s, trade integration in goods improved again.
  • Intra-EU trade in services endured a less severe slump and showed a more stable increase afterwards. Trade integration in services increased further in 2019. Moreover, such integration may be underestimated, as the value-added of services included in trade of manufactured products is also growing.
  • The EU’s overall trade performance further improved in case of services and deteriorated slightly in case of goods in 2019.
  • There is considerable turnaround in the rankings for goods trade integration. The countries where trade integration was increasing fastest in 2019 were Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Denmark and Portugal. The share of intra EU trade in goods decreased for other Member States.
  • Services trade integration continues to increase for most Member States. The countries where trade integration was increasing fastest in 2019 were Malta, Lithuania, Sweden, Finland, Romania and the Netherlands. There is considerable potential for boosting trade integration in services further, notably in construction, retail, and some business services.

More information

Indicators

EU trade integration indicators: The percentage of a country’s GDP that is accounted for by trade with EU countries (imports and exports), in either goods or services.

Total imports/exports The value of all imports/exports of goods and services (from/to any country, inside or outside the EU) as a share of GDP.

Higher values show the economy is more open, competitive and integrated, in relation to the size of its economy.

Changes over time may indicate policy measures that reduce trade barriers or improve business conditions for trade.

Monthly imports/exports of goods: Total monthly value of imports/exports of goods at the EU-27 level, indexed with respect to January 2019.

A low/high value during the Covid-19 pandemic shows a decrease/increase in monthly imports/exports with respect to the pre-crisis levels (i.e. January 2019).

  • For instance, intra-EU imports/exports of goods appear to have been particularly hit in April 2020 compared to their January 2019 levels, but by the end of December 2020 they almost recovered their pre-crisis level.

Data sources: Eurostat, Balance of Payments data.

The following reports provide more detailed information, plus analysis:

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