New NRC project: Comparing the world’s largest single markets

A first-of-its-kind ARENA project compares political attitudes about internal-market governance in the EU and the US. 

The ARENA project “The Politics of European and American Single-Market Governance” (SINGLEMARKETS) has received NOK 12 million in funding from the Norwegian Research Council (NRC).

Over the next four years, project leader Craig Parsons and his team will investigate political attitudes about internal-market governance in the European Union and the United States.

Although the EU and the US are the two largest single markets in the world, remarkably little research compares their contemporary politics.

This academic neglect relates to a widespread presumption depicting the EU’s “Single Market project” (SMP) as an “incomplete” imitation of a barrier-free US market.

This common wisdom is deeply misleading, as Parsons shows in ongoing research that led to the SINGLEMARKETS proposal.

“The strange thing about the Europe-imitating-America narrative,” he points out, “is that European countries already face much stronger single-market requirements to accept out-of-state goods, service providers, workers, and financial firms than do US states.”

US interstate trade and mobility remain higher than in Europe, but these social flows go on despite interstate barriers in standards, licensing, discriminatory contracts and aid, social regulation, and more—not because the US ever undertook a barrier-reducing regulatory project like the SMP.

Today, then, EU and US regulation appear to institutionalize quite different choices about the political trade-offs of single-market governance:

  • political-economic trade-offs about uniform rules versus regulatory experimentation and competition,
  • democratic trade-offs between rights to mobility and openness versus citizens’ attachments to autonomy or border control
  • federal trade-offs between respect for diverse identities versus values of unity.

SINGLEMARKETS will investigate the politics behind these major political-economic outcomes, asking: who endorses or opposes the choices embedded in the US and EU regimes for internal market openness? Why, and so what? Answers to these questions matter not only because single-market rules affect the opportunities for individuals and firms in Europe and America, but also because these two regulatory regimes are often models for other national and regional arrangements around the world.

Craig Parsons and his team will generate comparable data about attitudes of citizens, business, and officials in surveys and interviews; test a wide range of competing theories to explain responses; and engage observed attitudes with normative debates about political economy, democracy, and federalism.

Congratulations to all involved! We are looking forward to new vital knowledge about political attitudes towards the world's largest single markets!

Published June 29, 2021 1:40 AM - Last modified June 29, 2021 9:08 AM