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Single Market Scoreboard

Outcomes and competitiveness

This section of the Scoreboard presents a set of indicators assessing the performance of the single market in relation to some of its specific policy objectives.   

They are grouped along the following categories:

Main messages

Growth, employment and social indicators

In 2021 the EU industry and services sectors recovered quickly (industry 7.3%, service 4.7%) from the fall driven by the pandemic containment measures in 2020. They grew faster than in the last decade, although slower than in China (+8.2% for both sectors in 2021). The increase in value added occurred across all business sizes.

EU employment grew by 0.7% in 2021. This was stronger than in Japan and the UK, but far below the growth experienced in the USA.  In the EU employment growth over the last decade has been driven by large enterprises, while SME employment has remained fairly stable over the last years.

In 2021 net earnings in the EU displayed a 16% growth compared to 2014, but remained smaller than in Japan, the UK and the USA for the three categories of households considered (single with no kids, one-earner couple with two kids and two-earner couple with two kids). 

Other social indicators point to an overall improvement as regards the creation of permanent employment, health and safety at work, and gender balance. In particular in the EU the percentages of accidents at work and work-related health problems affecting persons employed or previously employed dropped between 2007 and 2020 (accidents from 3.2% to 2.3%, health problems: from 14.6% to 10.3%), although big differences across Member States persist.

Integration of goods and services

Single market integration, as measured by trade within the EU, has been growing after the effects of the COVID-19 containment measures in 2020 and remains well above the value of trade with the rest of the world.  In June 2022 trade within the EU amounted to more than €360 bn and represented 60% of overall EU trade. In 2019 about 16% of EU SMEs in the industry sector reported sales to another EU country.

In addition, the drop in price dispersion across Member States (from 44.6% in 1996 to 24.4% in 2021) confirms the expectations of the single market leading to price convergence over time. This has been stronger and faster in the euro area (average yearly growth rate  of the coefficient  of variation of prices of -2.5% since 1996) than in the whole EU.

In 2021 the share of EU trade in Member States’ gross domestic product (GDP) varied from about 12 to 60% for goods and from 2 to 40% for services depending on a number of factors including a country’s size and economic structure. Overall between 2019 and 2021 these shares increase for goods and decrease for services.

Economic resilience

Both public and private investment measured as GDP shares (respectively 0.7% and 3.3% in 2022) have been growing since 2020, although private investment remains below its pre-2020 value and both remain lower than in the USA (respectively 1.4% and 4% in 2022).

The share of research and development expenditure in EU GDP has been consistently growing over the last two decades and amounted to 2.3%  in 2020. However, this share stays well below the levels of Japan (3.3%) and the USA (3.5%). 

In 2019, the global market share in medium and high-tech manufacturing was slightly higher for the EU (20%) than for the USA (19.3%), although both are on a downward trend and have a lower share than China (23.5%).

As regards strategic dependency, the composite index of the degree of import concentration for a basket of raw materials points to an overall average degree of concentration for the EU (0.18).

Digital transition

Overall, the single market continues its progress on the digital transition. According to the 2022 Digital Economy  and Society Index (DESI) the largest growth took place in the connectivity dimension. In 2021 the share of firms with trading online across borders was 24% for large enterprise and 8-9% for SMEs as regards trade  with other EU countries. In 2022, the share of firms employing ICT specialists was 78% for large enterprises and 19% for SMEs. Both shares remained broadly stable over the last years. SMEs lag behind large enterprises in both those areas and in the use of big data analytics.

Green transition

The single market is making progress on the green transition although at different speeds across various areas and Member States. For instance, despite recent increases, in 2020 the EU average rate of use of secondary materials was only 12.8%, indicating that the linear model is still prevailing over circularity. At the same time the EU municipal waste recycling rate increased to almost 48% in 2020, against the EU target of reaching 55% by 2025.

On the climate-neutrality and zero-pollution objectives, the indicators show a positive trend in both the greenhouse gas emission intensity of the economy (down by 17% in 2020 compared to 2017) and air emission intensity of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in manufacturing (from 0.11 to 0.07 grams/€ in 2019).

According to their own declarations, energy efficiency measures attract the attention of a very high share of businesses (90-95% across all sizes and regardless of the type of measure in 2021). On average, about one third of EU businesses (32% of SMEs and 46% of large enterprises) declared that they were offering green products or services in 2021.

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