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EU market access - overcoming barriers

Accessing the EU Single Market - overcoming trade barriers you may face

To help companies take advantage of the enormous opportunities for trade offered by the European Single Market, both the UK Government and the European Commission provide guidance on how to trade in Europe and information on the help that is available to those trading in Europe:

Sometimes, however, not everything goes smoothly, and occasionally UK businesses are unable to operate in certain Member States. This is often caused by lack of information or confusion about the application of EU Rules by public authorities. When this is the case and British business interests are affected, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will try to help.

Overcoming barriers - how the EU Market Access Unit can help

BIS is keen to help businesses overcome barriers they face when trying to trade in the Single Market. It has set up an EU Market Access Team which works with authorities in other Member States to seek solutions wherever it can, either through the EU network of “SOLVIT Centres” or through its network of British Embassies and their contacts in national governments.


SOLVIT is a network of centres across European governments that work together to try and resolve, without legal proceedings, difficulties caused by the misapplication of Single Market legislation by public authorities in a Member State.  The service is free to complainants and is designed to assist anyone having problems exercising their free movement rights in Europe. See Problems Trading in Europe - SOLVIT 

When a trade barrier faced by a UK company is not suitable for SOLVIT, BIS will nevertheless be interested to hear about the problems and aim to find a solution.


Tel: +44 (0) 207 215 2833/3508

fax: +44 (0) 207 215 2635

SOLVIT success stories

UK SOLVIT success stories (DOC, 139 Kb) 

Business diplomacy

In addition to the SOLVIT work, BIS has a small team that helps to address barriers to trade in the Internal Market which are outside the remit of SOLVIT. These cases generally target national legislation in another Member State that effectively works against UK business interests, but where it is not clear that the national legislation actually breaches EU law. In these instances, BIS will work closely with the affected UK companies to put together a lobbying plan which often involves representations being made by the relevant British Embassy to the lead ministry in the other EU country. This “soft diplomacy” uses the excellent contacts the UK has in other EU countries through its embassy network to enable British firms to be able to put their cases to the relevant authorities in other EU countries.

This work is at an early stage, but already the BIS team has taken forward cases involving most of the EU countries, covering business areas as diverse as pension's provision, internet gambling, pharmaceuticals, gas equipment and accountancy standards.  For further information about this service, interested companies should contact BIS at


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