Updating the EU Internal Market Concept
CLES Research Paper Series. F1, F15, F6, O24, O52. CLES University College London , 2018. No. 1.
The study analyses the EU Internal market from a dynamic and a contextual perspective, taking into account, not just the normative changes brought by the intense legislative and judicial activity in this area, but also the important economic and technological transformations that have largely altered the structure of the global economy in the last two to three decades. These could, in my view, challenge the first principles upon which the EU economic integration process and, in particular the “single market” idea, is based. This “updating” of the Internal market project is essential if one is to critically reflect on the role and the specificity of the EU integration process, in the context of the broader globalization movement. The first part of the paper introduces the “neo-functionalist” perspective, which has largely influenced the EU economic integration process, from its incipiency, and explores its theoretical linkages with trade theory (the law of one price), thus presenting the fundamental tenets of positive EU Internal market law. The second part delves into the subsequent mutation of the economic integration ideal towards the more modular and scalar concept of “regulatory convergence”. Opening the black box of economic integration will lead us to analyse its transformation, as a result of a paradigm shift currently occurring in the organization of the global process of economic production, with the development of global value chains, and the important role of technology, in particular the Internet, in promoting economic integration not through law, but through code. The study predicts that addressing more systematically the effect of both private and public obstacles to trade should take centre-stage if one is to opt for a more holistic and dynamic perspective in analysing the process of economic integration. A more extensive intervention of the competition law tool and other regulatory initiatives against private restrictions to trade is therefore to be expected in the future, these areas of law taking a more prevalent part in the EU Internal market law compass. The study discusses in some detail the recent legislative and jurisprudential developments with regard to geo-blocking and geo-filtering practices. The last part of the study provides some concluding thoughts on the need for the EU Internal market concept to be updated and raises some questions with regard to its ontology in the context of a globalized economy.