COVER STORY The role of the EU single market GDP growth if the single market for services is fully implemented would be created by the further development of the EU single market of the EU’s GDP is created by the services sector Sources: European Commission; Council of the European Union What Are we Actually Negotiating? The notion of accession negotiations can often be misleading, especially when it comes to the Single Market. The adoption of and alignment with the entire EU acquis is not a subject of any negotiation process. What can be negotiated are the deadlines and some aspects regarding the manner to achieve some of the objectives prescribed in some directives. While certain transition periods are allowed for issues that have only domestic implications (although more and more rare with each enlargement), no such transition is allowed when it comes to the Single Market. A country that is joining the EU needs to have all the preconditions in place before the accession date. Moreover, most of the chapters that are to be negotiated in the framework of the accession process are to a certain extent related to the Single Market. They either directly facilitate and underpin its establishment (like the chapters related to the free movement of goods/workers/ capital, freedom of establishment and provision of services, enterprise and industrial policy, economic and monetary policy, competition 10 EMERGING MACEDONIA policy, company law etc.), or affect in some way the operations of domestic businesses (like the chapters on energy, environment, agriculture, food safety etc.). The fulfillment of the political criteria also has an impact on the functioning of the Single Market because it provides the much needed political stability and legal certainty for economic operators, helps to establish a level- playing field by reducing the informal economy, and contributes to eliminating corruptive practices. Finally, joining the Single Market goes hand in hand with the transfer of many competences in the area of economic policy from the national to the EU level. This means that once Macedonia joins the EU, it will not be fully autonomous to make decisions related to different economic issues, but will need to comply with binding decisions adopted by the European institutions. That makes it all the more important to advocate for a serious, transparent and inclusive EU accession process that will create favorable conditions for Macedonian companies and citizens to reap the benefits, and not “suffer the consequences” of the Single Market.