In 1985 the European Community decided to create a huge single market based on four basic freedoms: the free circulation of persons, goods, services, and capital.
To create this market, the EC approved a blueprint of 282 directives, governing everything from industrial standards and food safety to company law, banking regulations, vocational training, and public procurement.
Seven years later, the 12-country EC has common rules on toy safety, food thickeners, tire pressure gauges, bank branches, insurance, airfares - even on "airborne noise emitted by household appliances."
As the curtain rises on this market of 340 million consumers on Jan. 1, about 95 percent of those directives have been adopted and submitted to member countries to be transposed into national law.
The free movement of persons, however, remains a patchwork across the EC.