Business within the EU – principles and tools

The conditions for trade differ depending on whether you do business within or outside the EU. The basic principles for trade differ within the EU and between the EU and the rest of the world. Within the EU, there are often also common rules. Here you will find information on what support your company can get from contact points across the EU and what characterises EU trade.

Use the free tools – across the EU

There are several tools in the EU that have been created to help companies find information, solve problems and influence legislation. The tools are available in all EU countries and work in the same way everywhere. They include:

  • Problem solving: Legal help to solve problems with authorities in EU countries (SOLVIT).
  • Advice: The EU offers free legal advice on issues related to free movement (Your Europe Advice).
  • Information on national rules: Help to find information on national rules for a specific product or service (product contact point and contact point for services).
  • Influence rules: Ability to see what new national rules are in progress in the EU countries and to comment on the proposals in the TRIS database.
  • Information: EU rules and help finding national provisions in each EU country on the Your Europe website.

Principles of trade within the EU

There is free movement of goods, services, persons and capital within the EU, and a company that is established in the EU has the right to establish in any other EU country. This facilitates trade and is a prerequisite for a common market. Free movement is characterised by the following:

  • Non-discrimination – in principle, an EU country is not allowed to treat its own companies and citizens more favourably than those from other EU countries. This includes product requirements, requirements for services providers, participation in national procurement and taxes.
  • Mutual recognition – a product that is legally put on the market in one EU country should also be allowed in other EU countries. This principle also applies to services and professional qualifications.
  • Proportionality – regulations and various forms of intervention in the member states must not be more restrictive than necessary.
  • Many common rules for ​​goods, services, public procurement and competition.

What you can expect at the border

The EU is a customs union, which means that the member states do not charge each other customs. For goods imported from outside the EU, all EU countries have the same tariff. Moreover, goods do not have to go through any customs formalities or physical checks when they are shipped across the borders within the EU.