Skip to main content

The Single Market: A Race to the Bottom or Convergence Towards High Standards (1985‒1997)?

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
European Integration and the Global Financial Crisis
  • 218 Accesses

Abstract

The origins of this programme date back to 1985, when it was officially launched by President of the European Commission Jacques DelorsDelors, Jacques in his inaugural speech at the European Parliament.1 It vowed to open a border-free Europe by 1992. This chapter, which draws on various materials found in the national and European archives and focuses on the adoption of the Single Market (1985‒1986) and the first decade of its implementation (1987‒1997), first argues that the implementation of the Single Market Programme was affected by strong neoliberal dynamics that came from the British government and European Commissioners for Competition Policy. Second, it contends that, despite this offensive, the overall programme remained a compromise between four visions of Europe: social,neomercantilist, neoliberal and market-oriented

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. 1.

    Jacques Delors’ speech before the European Parliament on 14 January 1985. On the origins of the Single Market Programme, see Laurent Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World: Neoliberalism and Its Alternatives Following the 1973 Oil Crisis (London: Routledge, 2018), 180–197; Andrew Moravcsik, The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 314–379.

  2. 2.

    The bibliography on non-archival approaches to the implementation of the Single Market Programme in the 1980s includes: Michelle Egan, Constructing a European Market (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Gilles Grin, The Battle of the Single European Market: Achievements and Economic Thought, 1985–2000 (London: Paul Kegan, 2003); Kenneth Armstrong and Simon Bulmer, The Governance of the Single European Market (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998); Simon Bulmer, ‘Completing the European Community’s Internal Market: The Regulatory Implications for the Federal Republic of Germany’, in The Politics of German Regulation, ed. Kenneth Dyson (Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1992), 53–78; David Howart and Tal Sadeh, The Political Economy of Europe’s Incomplete Single Market (London: Routledge, 2012); Nicolas Jabko, Playing the Market: A Political Strategy for Uniting Europe, 1985–2006 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005); Neil Fligstein and Alec Stone Sweet, ‘Constructing Polities and Markets: An Institutionalist Account of European Integration’, American Journal of Sociology 107, no. 5 (2002), 1221–1243; Bernard Jullien and Andy Smith, eds., The EU’s Government of Industries: Markets, Institutions and Politics (Routledge: London, 2015).

  3. 3.

    Judgment of the Court of 20 February 1979, Rewe-Zentral AG v Bundesmonopolverwaltung für Branntwein, case 120/78; Karen Alter and Sophie Meunier, ‘Judicial Politics in the European Community: European Integration and the Pathbreaking Cassis de Dijon Decision’, Comparative Political Studies 26, no. 4 (1994), 535–561; Egan, Constructing a European Market, 94–103.

  4. 4.

    Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World, 183.

  5. 5.

    This typology is central to the following book: Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World (see Chapter 1 for a full presentation of the typology). It was implemented in a work which spans the period ranging from 1945 to 2021: Warlouzet, Europe contre Europe. Entre liberté, solidarité et puissance depuis 1945 (Paris, CNRS éditions, 2022).

  6. 6.

    On Social Europe, see Aurélie Andry’s recent PhD dissertation, Social Europe in the Long 1970s: The Story of a Defeat, PhD Dissertation, Florence, EUI, 2017, and Aurélie Andry, ‘Was There an Alternative? European Socialists Facing Capitalism in the Long 1970s’, European Review of History 26, no. 4 (2019), 723–746.

  7. 7.

    This classification is different from the one used in the history of ideas, in which the term ‘neoliberal’ is used to refer to those who took part in the Lippmann conference, along with their successors. This definition is much broader, and therefore not applicable in a cross-country comparison. See, among others: François Denord, Néo-libéralisme version française. Histoire d’une idéologie politique (Paris: Démopolis, 2007); Hagen Schulz-Forberg, ‘Crisis and Continuity: Robert Marjolin, Transnational Policy-Making and Neoliberalism, 1930s-70s’, European Review of History 26, no. 4 (2019), 679–702.

  8. 8.

    For a comprehensive review of the recent literature on European integration history, see Kiran Klaus Patel, ‘Widening and Deepening? Recent Advances in European Integration History’, Neue Politische Literatur 64, no. 2 (2019), 327–357.

  9. 9.

    Andrew Moravcsik, The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 314–379; Grin, The Battle of the Single European Market; Wayne Sandholtz and John Zysman, ‘1992: Recasting the European Bargain’, World Politics 42, no. 1 (1989), 95–128.

  10. 10.

    This paragraph is based on Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World, 180–197.

  11. 11.

    See Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World, 192–193.

  12. 12.

    Grin, The Battle of the Single European Market.

  13. 13.

    There is already a large bibliography on the history of the EMU in the 1980s: Kenneth Dyson and Lucia Quaglia, eds., European Economic Governance and Policies: Commentary on Key Historical and Institutional Documents, 2 volumes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); Kenneth Dyson and Kevin Featherstone, The Road to Maastricht: Negotiating Economic and Monetary Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Kenneth Dyson and Ivo Maes, eds., Architects of the Euro: Intellectuals in the Making of European Monetary Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016); Harold James, Making the Monetary Union: Making the European Monetary Union: The Role of the Committee of Central Bank Governors and the Origins of the European Central Bank (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012); Amy Verdun, ‘Why EMU Happened? A Survey of Theoretical Explanations’, in Before and Beyond EMU: Historical Lessons and Future Prospects, ed. Patrick Crowley (London: Routledge, 2002), 71–98.

  14. 14.

    Simone Paoli, Frontiera Sud. L'Italia e la nascita dell'Europa di Schengen (Firenze: Mondadori Education, 2018), Emmanuel Comte, The History of the European Migration Regime: Germany's Strategic Hegemony (London: Routledge, 2018).

  15. 15.

    Steven K. Vogel, Freer Markets, More Rules: Regulatory Reform in Advanced Industrial Countries (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996).

  16. 16.

    Warlouzet, Governing Europe, 183. DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung. It is the German Institute for Standardization.

  17. 17.

    Warlouzet, Governing Europe, 192–194 and Chapter 8.

  18. 18.

    British National Archives, PREM 19/1490/1, British memorandum to the EEC Council, 29 and 30 March 1985.

  19. 19.

    European Commission, Completing the Internal Market, Com (85) 310, 14 June 1985.

  20. 20.

    British National Archives, PREM 19/1491, Letter from Geoffrey Howe to Margaret Thatcher, 25 June 1985.

  21. 21.

    British National Archives, PREM 19/1751, Letter from Geoffrey Howe (Foreign Secretary) to Margaret Thatcher, 6 October 1986.

  22. 22.

    British National Archives, PREM 19/1751, Note Charles Powell, Private Secretary, on a Delors-Thatcher meeting, 26 November 1986.

  23. 23.

    Elizabeth Vallance and Elizabeth Davies, Women of Europe: Women MEPs and Equality Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 95–96.

  24. 24.

    British National Archives, PREM 19/1751, letter from the Paymaster General (Kenneth Clarke) to Margaret Thatcher, November 1986.

  25. 25.

    On the Vredeling Directive, see Andry, Social Europe in the Long 1970s, 305–324; Francesco Petrini, ‘Demanding Democracy in the Workplace: The European Trade Union Confederation and the Struggle to Regulate Multinationals’, in Societal Actors in European Integration: Polity-Building and Policy-Making, 1958–1992, eds. Wolfram Kaiser and Jan-Henrik Meyer (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 151–172; Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World, 57–77.

  26. 26.

    Speech by Jacques Delors before the TUC Congress, Bournemouth, 8 September 1988.

  27. 27.

    Speech by Margaret Thatcher before the College of Bruges, Bruges, 20 September 1988.

  28. 28.

    Stephen George, An Awkward Partner: Britain in the European Community (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 209–215.

  29. 29.

    Laurent Warlouzet, ‘The European Parliament’s Role in the Internal Market Programme: The Cost of Non-Europe and the Car Emission Directive’, Journal of European Integration History, forthcoming.

  30. 30.

    EU historical archives, interview of the author with Heinz Zourek, 29 June 2017.

  31. 31.

    EU historical archives, BAC 254/2006/248, note from the French government, 2 September 1999, quoted in Laurent Warlouzet, ‘The Internal Market and Competition’, in The European Commission, 1986–2000: Histories and Memories of an Institution, eds. Vincent Dujardin, Éric Bussière, Piers Ludlow, Federico Romero, Dieter Schlenker and Antonio Varsori (Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2019), 257–280.

  32. 32.

    EU historical archives, BAC 254/2006/248, note DG XXIV, 10 September 1999.

  33. 33.

    Michelle Cini and Lee McGowan, Competition Policy in the European Union (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Chapters 1 and 2; Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World, 157–159.

  34. 34.

    On the adoption of this regulation, including a historiographical review of the literature, see Laurent Warlouzet, ‘The Centralization of EU Competition Policy: Historical Institutionalist Dynamics from Cartel Monitoring to Merger Control (1956–91)’, Journal of Common Market Studies 54, no. 3 (2016), 725–741; Simon Bulmer, ‘Institutions and Policy Change in the European Communities: The Case of Merger Control’, Public Administration 72, no. 3 (1994), 423–444; Tim Büthe and Gabriel Swank, ‘The Politics of Antitrust and Merger Review in the European Union: Institutional Change and Decisions from Messina to 2004’, Center for European Studies Working Paper Series 142 (2007); Mark Pollack, The Engines of European Integration: Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

  35. 35.

    Hussein Kassim and Handley Stevens, Air Transport and the European Union: Europeanization and its Limits (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

  36. 36.

    Mark Thatcher, Internationalisation and Economic Institutions: Comparing the European Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

  37. 37.

    Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World, 159–161; Susanna Fellman, Peter Sandberg and Martin Shanahan, eds., Regulating Competition: The Role of Cartel Registers (London: Routledge, 2015).

  38. 38.

    See Michele Di Donato’s chapter in this volume.

  39. 39.

    ‘The Thrust of Commission Policy’, statement by Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission to the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 14 and 15 January 1985, in Bulletin of the European Communities, Supplement 1/85. This document is a translation of the original speech given in French.

  40. 40.

    EU archives, oral archives, interview of Peter Sutherland by Laurent Warlouzet on 8 September 2011; interview of Jacques Delors by Vincent Dujardin, Anne-Sophie Gijs and Sophie Kaisin on 20 June 2017.

  41. 41.

    EU archives, European Commission, BAC 327/1994/159, note from the Director-General to Sunnen, 11 October 1985; letter from Andriessen to Cryer, 28 November 1984.

  42. 42.

    EU archives, European Commission, BAC 327/1994/159, note Thies for Sunnen, 11 October 1985; note on a meeting with representatives of the French government, 18 October 1985.

  43. 43.

    EU archives, European Commission, BAC 327/1994/159, note Thies for Sunnen, 11 October 1985; BAC 408/1991/201, note on the Commission’s meeting of 8 October 1986.

  44. 44.

    EU archives, European Commission, BAC 408/1991/201, note Lamoureux for Delors, 2 and 11 December 1986.

  45. 45.

    EU archives, European Commission, BAC 327/1994/160, note SG SEC (87) 1147/8, 13 July 1987; BAC 408/1991/201, note Lamoureux for Delors, 11 December 1986.

  46. 46.

    EU archives, European Commission, BAC 327/1994/159, minutes of the Commission meeting on 17 December 1986.

  47. 47.

    Decision of the Commission n° 87/585/CEE of 15 July 1987, ‘relative aux aides accordées par le gouvernement français à un fabricant de textiles, d'habillement et de produits à base de papier Boussac Saint Frères’.

  48. 48.

    EU archives, European Commission, BDT 323/93/210, note on the meeting of commissioner, 4 July 1986, note on the meeting of the chef de cabinet, 11 July 1986.

  49. 49.

    EU archives, European Commission, BAC 327/1994/159, note Ripa di Meana to Sutherland, 16 December 1986.

  50. 50.

    George, An Awkward Partner, 171.

  51. 51.

    See the footnote above for a bibliography on the adoption of the 1989 merger regulation.

  52. 52.

    AHCE, COM(90) PV 999, second part, meeting of 14 February 1990, point XIV; quoted in Warlouzet, ‘The Internal Market’.

  53. 53.

    Pollack, The Engines, 292–299; Cini and McGowan, Competition Policy, 129.

  54. 54.

    Frédéric Jenny, ‘Droit européen de la concurrence et efficience économique’, Revue d’économie industrielle 63 (1993), 202–203; Catherine Goybet, ‘La CEE a-t-elle une politique industrielle?’ Revue du Marché Commun 352 (1991), 753.

  55. 55.

    On the reservations of DG Competition, see the recording of the following interview: EU archives, oral archives, interview of Helmut Schröter by Laurent Warlouzet, 30 September 2016. On the reservations of other DGs, see EU archives, oral archives, interview of Martine Reicherts by Laurent Warlouzet on 14 December 2017.

  56. 56.

    George Ross, Jacques Delors and European Integration (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995), 178.

  57. 57.

    On Delors’ commitment to developing EEC industrial policy in high technology, see Warlouzet, Governing Europe in a Globalizing World, 192–194 and 200–202; Arthe Van Laer, ‘Research: Towards a New Common Policy’, in The European Commission, 1973-86: History and Memories of An Institution, eds. Eric Bussière, Vincent Dujardin, Michel Dumoulin (Brussels: European Commission, 2014), 277–290.

  58. 58.

    My own translation from the French original: ‘La DG IV continue de consulter les experts des États membres sur le projet d’encadrement par la Commission des aides qui visent à notifier les bilans, les prêts, les garanties, les bénéfices, les achats de sociétés pour vérifier que l’entreprise publique a un comportement d’opérateur privé. M. Van Miert s’est ému de ce projet … M. Bérégovoy a envoyé à Sir Leon Brittan une lettre très ferme par laquelle il souligne qu’est ainsi mise en cause la liberté prévue par le traité pour un état de constituer de faire fonctionner des entreprises publiques’; EU archives, private fund François Lamoureux (FL) 562, note from François Lamoureux to Jacques Delors, 12 February 1991, quoted in Warlouzet, ‘The Internal Market’.

  59. 59.

    EU archives, interview of Anne Houtman by Laurent Warlouzet, 10 June 2016.

  60. 60.

    Adrienne Héritier, ‘Market Integration and Social Cohesion: The Politics of Public Services in European Regulation’, Journal of European Public Policy 8, no. 5 (2001), 825–852; Mélanie Vay, La mise en problème européen de l’économie politique. Socio-histoire des mondes de l’entreprise publique au contact de la politique européenne (1957-1997), PhD Dissertation, supervised by Antoine Vauchez, University Paris 1, 2019, 556–561.

  61. 61.

    EU archives, PL 11, note from Claus-Dieter Ehlermann for DG IV’s directors, 5 January 1995, quoted in Warlouzet, ‘The Internal Market’.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Laurent Warlouzet .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Warlouzet, L. (2023). The Single Market: A Race to the Bottom or Convergence Towards High Standards (1985‒1997)?. In: Di Donato, M., Pons, S. (eds) European Integration and the Global Financial Crisis. Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-06797-6_2

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-06797-6_2

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-06796-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-06797-6

  • eBook Packages: HistoryHistory (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics