When the European Union speaks on international trade, the rest of the world adjusts its positions. It is the one subject on which the Union speaks with a single voice and the one arena of international relations wherein it has real power. The eu derives its leverage in this area from the fact that it is the world’s biggest single market—a result of the changes it implemented after the summer of 1984. A sweeping advance in trade liberalization for both goods and invisibles, within the common market itself and with the world outside its frontiers, has established the eu with a greater share of world trade by value than the usa (if trade between eu member states is included). Increasing freedom of movement for workers, work-seekers and professional experts, together with relative freedom of capital flows—although far less, for people and capital, than inside the usa—have all contributed to this outcome. The establishment of a common currency for all but three of the member-states has created a firmer buttressing for these developments. The myth that it was possible to travel across mid-nineteenth-century Europe with only one currency is now becoming close to reality.
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