Entrepreneurs still experience large obstacles in the European internal market

June 10, 2016 - Many Dutch entrepreneurs still experience large obstacles in doing business across the European internal market. More than a third (36%) of goods exporters surveyed consider different national product requirements a large obstacle in doing business in the EU. For exporters of services the complexity of VAT-rules and procedures is the most significant obstacle (36% finds this a large obstacle). These are among the findings of a survey of 6500 Dutch entrepreneurs on the European internal market by the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. Strengthening the internal market is one of the priorities of the current Netherlands EU Presidency and concerns the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital between the EU member states. The functioning of the internal market is a central theme of the internal market conference of the Netherlands EU Presidency and the European Commission that takes place coming 13 June in Amsterdam.

Entrepreneurs are unfamiliar with rules on the European market

Poor findability of information and unfamiliarity with rules are considered as large obstacles by almost a third of both goods and services exporters. With regard to online sales to other EU-countries (cross-border e-commerce), high delivery costs are of particular concern. 44% of entrepreneurs engaged in this activity see this as a large obstacle.

More than 55% of the entrepreneurs doing business with other EU-countries are not well or not at all informed about EU market rules. Moreover, they consider obtaining information a problem: only 10% find it easy to obtain information. 65% would like to know more about EU market rules.

The majority of the most important online EU information and advisory services are entirely unknown to more than 80% of entrepreneurs that are doing business in other EU countries. In addition, only 9% feel fairly to very well informed about what they can do when the government of another EU member state does not apply the rules correctly (e.g. asking SOLVIT for help). 35% of entrepreneurs who have experienced such problems do what the government asks, even when they know it is not in accordance with EU law. 26% give up.

Perceptions and benefits of the internal market

Easier and cheaper travel, a larger potential market and a bigger choice of products and services are seen by entrepreneurs as the most important positive impacts that the internal market has brought. An influx of cheap labour and increased competition were the most frequently selected negative impacts among entrepreneurs.

55% of entrepreneurs who have an opinion on the benefits of the internal market for the Netherlands feel that the Netherlands has benefited significantly from the internal market. 21% believe that the Netherlands has benefited little from the internal market. These percentages are almost 60% and 15% for entrepreneurs who are engaged in international business activities in the internal market.

About the survey

In December 2015 / January 2016 the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey on the experiences of Dutch entrepreneurs with the European internal market. Out of 6,576 entrepreneurs asked to participate, 2,585 entrepreneurs filled in the questionnaire – a response rate of 39.3%. Entrepreneurs were asked about modes of internationalisation, benefits, perceptions, obstacles, knowledge and information provision with regard to the European internal market.

Download the report

Read more about the highlights of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce survey on the European internal market (English) or view the complete survey (Dutch only)