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Initially triggered by the Single Market Program launched in the late eighties of the past century, EU manufacturing industries have been characterized by major structural changes strongly affecting the market structure and competitive conditions of firms. The process of EU market integration continues to change the relevant markets on which firms compete, and forces firms to optimize their configuration of production activities and to build competitiveness based on innovation and technology development. In a more recent period the process of EU market integration has been associated with a stronger integration of the EU in the global economy, as witnessed by the growing openness of the EU to world trade and investment in the past decade.
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