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The roadmap for a Single Market


By the end of 1984, ERT Members had been actively promoting themes in several European capitals connected with relaunching Europe and completing the Single Market. None was more successful at commanding attention than Wisse Dekker’s paper, Europe 1990: An Agenda for Action, launched in January 1985 to coincide with the arrival in office of the new Commission, headed by Jacques Delors. The paper, strongly backed by ERT, had enormous impact. It set out precise steps to be followed for achieving a Single Market: elimination of border formalities, opening up of public procurement markets (particularly for telecommunications), harmonisation of technical standards, fiscal harmonisation (especially Value Added Tax). It even set a timetable and a deadline (1990) for completing the project – a very radical idea for many European politicians.


The arguments were convincing and the timing perfect. The Single Market became the most visible proposal of Jacques Delors’ new Commission.


These and other ideas in the Wisse Dekker paper now seem very familiar because they foreshadowed many of the contents of the White Paper “Completing the Single Market”, drafted by Lord Cockfield, the new Industry Commissioner, and adopted by the Commission in early 1985. The “1992 Programme” as it was known (ERT’s target date having been changed) paved the way for the key Treaty changes in the Single European Act of 1986.

 

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