Moving Goods

The free movement of goods is one of the cornerstones of the European Single Market.

The removal of national barriers to the free movement of goods within the EU is one of the principles enshrined in the EU Treaties. From a traditionally protectionist starting point, the countries of the EU have continuously been lifting restrictions to form a ‘common’ or single market. This commitment to create a European trading area without frontiers has led to the creation of more wealth and new jobs, and has globally established the EU as a world trading player alongside the United States and Japan.

Despite Europe’s commitment to breaking down all internal trade barriers, not all sectors of the economy have been harmonised. The European Union decided to regulate at a European level sectors which might impose a higher risk for Europe’s citizens – such as pharmaceuticals or construction products. The majority of products (considered a ‘lower risk’) are subject to the application of the so-called principle of mutual recognition, which means that essentially every product legally manufactured or marketed in one of the Member States can be freely moved and traded within the EU internal market.

Limits to the free movement of goods

The EU Treaty gives Member States the right to set limits to the free movement of goods when there is a specific common interest such as protection of the environment, citizens’ health, or public policy, to name a few. This means for example that if the import of a product is seen by a Member State’s national authorities as a potential threat to public health, public morality or public policy, it can deny or restrict access to its market. Examples of such products are genetically modified food or certain energy drinks.

Even though there are generally no limitations for the purchase of goods in another Member State, as long as they are for personal use, there is a series of European restrictions for specific categories of products, such as alcohol and tobacco.

Further Information
  • Department of Customs and Excise
    : 22 601 657 and 22 601 658
  • Europe Direct
    :00 800 6789 1011

European citizens can go to the Europe Direct website free of charge from any of the 25 countries of the EU. The number 8000 11 12 can be phoned from within Cyprus, and the Eurodirect number + 357 8000 11 12 can be phoned directly from EU countries.

  • Permanent Representation of Cyprus to the European Union
    : + 32 2 73 53 510

Text last edited on: 12/2007

Source: European Union
© European Communities, 1995-2008
Reproduction is authorised.

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