The creation of a single European economic area based on a Common Market was a fundamental objective of the Treaty of Rome.
Today, the EU is the largest economy in the world. It is the worlds biggest exporter of manufactured goods and has the worlds largest single market area of more than 500 million consumers.
The EU is responsible for the trade policy of its member countries and negotiates trade agreements, based on World Trade Organisation rules, on their behalf. This means that no individual member government can negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with a non-EU partner.