A central feature of the European Union is its single market. The forerunner of the EU, the European Coal and Steel Community, was explicitly a project of economic integration, and economic issues have remained at the heart of the EU ever since. The internal market in the EU is perhaps the most highly tariff protected market in the world, which has spurred the tag of “Fortress Europe”. A regional barrier of tariff protects the European market from external competition as well as promoting internal trade. The single market, which is intended to ensure that a company in one member state can trade with a company in any other member state without the interference of national borders, is now the world’s largest
trading area, with a population of 500 million people and a GDP of over €12 trillion. Being
part of the European single market has brought great benefits to the European economy and to anyone who works, shops, or trades in it. As a result, EU can be seen as to be an impressive power in trade. When considered as a single economic unit, the EU has become the biggest trading block in the world, dominating the region based on its capacity
to grant or withhold access to its internal markets.
The underlying reason for European trade policies is through the organisations emphasis on the promotion of general human living conditions. This is illustrated in the legal framework of the organisation, namely the newly adopted Lisbon Treaty of 2009. It is in this treaty that empathizes the Unions founding on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. In the heart of this project is the free movement of citizens within the region, as well as the continuing goal of promoting scientific and technological advancement
 The effect of EU membership can be seen in the trade statistics. Since 1973 trade
with the other member states has grown at an annual rate of 3.3 per cent (after
adjusting for inflation). Its trade with countries outside the EU has, by
contrast, grown at an annual rate of only 1.3 per cent.