The European Commission's Single European Market programme has passed its target date of 1 January 1993. A key aspect of the realization and completion of the single market is for virtually all Community legislation to be turned into national law in all member states. So far, this in not completely the case. Community legislation is brought into force at different times in each member state, which means that there is some considerable differences remaining in areas such as taxation, standardization and public procurement, as well as certain industry sectors, such as telecommunications, construction and food; there are also implications for businesses from the Community's major trading partners, such as the USA, Japan and EFTA, in particular the emerging European Economic Area.
The EU is the largest single market in the world, with extensive trading links with the developing world, not least through the LomÃ© Convention – the crucial development assistance and trade agreement between the EU and 71 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
Shoppers do not have full confidence in the products they buy on the European single market, as is clear from the crises precipitated by the "mad cow" disease and dioxin-contaminated food. Environmental questions are playing an increasingly important role in consumer choice.