- Removal of all obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons (Photo: www.eu2008.si/.../consumer_protection.html)
The term "internal market" was introduced in 1987 by the Single European Act (SEA) to indicate the removal of all obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons. It also refers to a market with a high degree of harmonisation of laws governing trade rules, specifications of goods, etc.
The Single European Act made voting by qualified majority in the Council of Ministers the major rule for harmonisation measures.
The Lisbon Treaty made the "internal market" a shared competence (Art. 4 TFEU). EU law therefore suppress member states' existing legislation and right to legislate in these areas. Necesarry competition rules for the functioning of the internal market are an exclusive competence of the Union (Art. 3 TFEU) and therefore member states may not legislate.
The internal market can best be defined as a more uniform and thorough-going common market. It is now regulated by Arts. 27-37 TFEU and Protocol number 27.
The European Court has further widened the scope of the Internal Market also to cover legislation on crimes and decide on minimum penalties linked to the breach of EU law.