What the EU does for companies

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The EU, the European Commission, and the Eurozone. These are all terms we are familiar with. But what exactly does the EU do? How does the EU help your business? And are there any drawbacks? Read more about the European Union and what it does for your business.

What is the EU?

The EU is a collaboration between European countries. It aims to present a strong economic front. To this end, the EU ensures that companies can do business more easily. For example, by negotiating trade agreements. But also, by providing free traffic inside the EU, subsidies, and product quality agreements.

What organisations does the EU consist of?

These are the main ones:

How does the EU benefit my business?

Easier and cheaper imports and exports

The EU internal free traffic of goods and services means it is easier to import and export inside the EU. In most cases, you do not need to file customs declarations, for example. There are some exceptions to this. Excise duty goods, such as tobacco products or alcoholic drinks, require paperwork whether you are transporting them inside the EU or (from) outside. The EU also works on closing trade agreements with countries outside the EU. Thanks to trade agreements, you pay less or even no import duties. Customs transactions are usually simplified. And the quality standard of products is high. Read more about importing and exporting outside the EU.


The EU offers several subsidies to SMEs. Projects like Horizon2020 help small and medium-sized companies to get started and grow. The Single Market Programme also aims to make the EU market more accessible.

No currency risk

The common EU currency, the euro, means there is no currency risk when you do business with a country inside the Eurozone. Not all EU member states use the euro: Denmark, for example, does not. There are 20 EU member states in the eurozone.

Easier to hire personnel inside the EU

There is free movement inside the EU, not just of products, but also of people. This means it is a lot easier to hire employees from another member state, or post workers to another EU country, than it is to hire or post workers from or to a country outside the EU. You do not need a work permit for employees from another EU country. For employees from non-EU countries, you usually do need a work permit. Find more information about hiring staff on eures.ec.europa.eu. Or read one of our checklists.

Are there disadvantages?

Extra rules and work

The EU simplifies many things. But it also means extra rules. For example, the GDPR. This privacy legislation means extra work for businesses. Or food supplements. If you trade these, you also have to comply with extra rules. You can also incur extra work if you want to earn an EU trust mark. For example, a European e-commerce trust mark.

More competition

The free movement of goods means you can export to other EU countries more easily. But it also means entrepreneurs from other EU countries can export their goods to the Netherlands more easily. In other words, you can expect more competition from companies in other EU countries.

Dependency on EU policies

Decisions taken by the EU affect Dutch legislation. And this, in turn, affect Dutch entrepreneurs. The EU does not weigh national interests when developing policies. It mainly concerns itself with the interests of the majority of member states. And not the interests of one country.

How much impact EU regulations have on your business depends on your sector, the size of your company, and other factors. For example, if you import medical devices, you will have to comply with the EU rules for medical devices. If you make clothes, you will have to meet the growing demands for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact Business.gov.nl