The effect of a single market within the European Union was seen as positive by most EU citizens, while businesses' views rather mixed, surveys showed on Monday.
According to the Eurobarometer survey, EU citizens are, in general, satisfied with the possibilities that the single market offers.
The majority of citizens in every member country except Germany believe that increasing worker mobility can help better fight unemployment. Seventy-two percent of people feel it easier to travel in between member states, while 36 percent have contemplated living in another member state.
Concerning the effect of the single market on competition, 67 percent perceive it as positive. Seventy-three percent and 58 percent of EU citizens respectively also think the single market has improved range and quality of products.
However, the integration of financial markets seems lagging behind. The survey, conducted between February and March 2006 with around 25,000 respondents across the EU, showed that only a small minority had ever considered buying financial services like mortgages and insurances from other member states.
Despite EU citizens' enthusiasm about the single market, businesses are less optimistic, according to two separate surveys released on Monday.
One of the surveys showed that 35 percent of company executives in the ten new member states that joined the EU in 2004 consider that the single market has had a positive impact on their firm's activities, 27 percent say there was no impact and five percent perceive the impact as negative.
The picture is quite different from the 15 "old" EU members. According to another survey, 30 percent of respondents in the 15 states consider that the single market has had a positive effect and 7 percent a negative effect, while an average of 51 percent sees no influence.
A majority of firms in EU-15 state that the 2004 enlargement has had no impact on their companies' strategies regarding access to markets, productivity, costs of materials and wages, etc. In EU- 10, the answers relating to positive experience outnumber those based on negative ones.
Nearly half of companies from both EU-15 and EU-10 think the single market has increased the level of competition within the EU, while 23 percent in EU-10 and 30 percent in EU-15 perceive that there is a rise of competition from non-EU firms.