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A quarter century of borderless trade

The EU's single market is 25 years old this year. Common standards for goods and services that are recognised as equivalent by accredited bodies throughout the Union represent one of the main pillars of economic cooperation.

A quarter century of borderless trade

The Maastricht Treaty came into force 25 years ago, giving a substantial boost to economic cooperation within the EU. For an export-oriented country like Sweden, trade within the EU has been very important for growth. Over 700 000 Swedish jobs, which is 15% of all Swedish jobs, depend on exports to the EU.

The harmonisation of standards has enabled the EU’s 28 member states to agree on common solutions to recurring problems, ranging from the size of a screw and the width of railway track, to advanced data communication.

Under agreements between the European accreditation bodies, compliance with standards is assessed in a like manner throughout the EU. This means that inspection, testing, calibration, certification or verification conducted by an accredited body in one EU State is also approved in other EU States.

The system applied brings significant financial and administrative savings, according to Peter Kronvall at Swedac.

“It is much more efficient in terms of resources than expecting state or municipal supervisory authorities in every single country to conduct all types of inspections, without compromising on quality and security”.

Peter Kronvall, who was Swedac’s representative on the EA’s (the European cooperation for Accreditation) executive committee between 2013 and 2017, sees continued cooperation and proactive work as the way forward to ensure that the next 25 years are just as successful for the EU’s single market.

“It is vital for the national accreditation bodies and standards organisations to continue to monitor rapid technical developments in order to be able to develop relevant standards and appropriate forms of quality assurance in the new product and service sectors,” comments Peter Kronvall.