Why the euro crisis threatens the EU single market

Three scenarios for the future of the EU single market

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Twenty years after the European single market was created, the euro crisis is posing a threat to one of the main achievements of European integration – the single market. Even the latest round of proposed improvements that the European Commission has announced will not be sufficient to mitigate this threat.

In a new ECFR paper Sebastian Dullien sets out the three most likely scenarios for how the euro crisis is likely to develop, and explains who each would adversely affect the single market and harm cross-border business and activity within the EU.  

  • A full break-up of the Eurozone could shatter the single market and threaten the Schengen agreement.
  • A ‘muddling-through’ scenario would probably significantly damage the single market and reduce its depth.
  • A positive solution to the crisis in the Eurozone, involving a great leap towards a true fiscal and banking union, would probably see several countries (such as the UK) withdraw, shrinking the single market.

Any one of these scenarios may lead to a loss of EU influence in global trade negotiations and institutions like the IMF and G20.


The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

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