Export growth to the EU has been strongest among non-EU countries since the foundation of the Single Market

UK exports to other EU nations have grown more slowly since the start of the Single Market than those of the rest of its founding members – and have been especially outstripped by exports from non-EU nations.

A new Civitas analysis lays bare the paradox of the European Single Market in that it has boosted the exports of countries outside the trade bloc more than its members, particularly Britain's.

The UK's exports have benefited least of all from the Single Market created in 1992, declining from the rate of growth they had been on already as part of the Common Market (since 1973).

The intra-EU exports of all 12 founding members was 14.6% lower, while the exports of non-member OECD countries to the EU were just 2.05% lower.

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'In terms of the growth of exports of goods, non-member countries have been its main beneficiaries,' Burrage writes in Myth and Paradox of the Single Market: How the trade benefits of EU membership have been mis-sold.

'The 20 years of the Single Market do not seem to have been particularly successful in terms of the growth of member countries' exports to each other. Far from there being a detectable surge after the inauguration, or a faster rate of growth, they have failed to keep pace with growth over the Common Market years.'

In his analysis of official trade statistics, Burrage shows how the growth of exports between member states over the Common Market years was 4.7% and then fell during the Single Market years to 3.0%.


Over the same period the UK's export growth to other single market members showed an even more marked fall from 5.38 per cent to 3.09 per cent.

'While the Single Market cannot be counted a success in export terms for the EU as a whole, for the UK it must be counted at the very least a massive disappointment, and not far short of a disaster. There has been no discernible benefit for UK exports to fellow members from the Single Market programme.'

Burrage provides a unique comparison of exports growth between the Common Market and Single Market years by extending the exponential trendlines from the years 1973-1992 through the years 1993-2012.

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When these exponential trendlines are compared with the real rate of the growth of exports over these same two decades of the Single Market, they show that:

• UK exports growth during the Single Market years was 22.3% lower than it would have been had it continued at its rate during the Common Market;

• The exports of all 12 founder members of the Single Market to each other have been 14.6 per cent lower than if they had continued to grow as they had done under the Common Market;

• Exports of non-member OECD countries to the EU were just 2.05% lower.

Burrage writes that:'Supposedly disadvantaged non-members have, in other words, come closer to keeping pace with their export performance under the Common Market than the members of the Single Market exporting to each other, and very much closer than the UK, despite not having been sitting round the table and helping to make the rules.'


Burrage's findings, 'throw doubt on the very existence of an EU single market in services'. To find out whether membership of the EU confers any advantage in services trade, the growth rates of the services exports of 20 member countries to other EU members between 2004 and 2012 were compared with those of 19 non-member countries:

'There is no statistically significant difference between them. By this measure, therefore, the advantages of members and the disadvantages of non-members in the 'single market' in services are both illusions. Indeed, given that non-member countries pay nothing for exporting to the Single Market, other than the tariff and trade costs of individual exporters, they might reasonably be said to have benefited more from it than its own member countries.'

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