It is people who make markets: 30 years of the EU single market

With almost 500 million people, 24 official languages, 27 EU member states and the 4 EFTA countries associated via a special agreement, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, the European single market is gigantic. But it is a lot more than just the third largest economy in the world. Every day, it brings companies and people together across borders. The value of networking cannot be overestimated, says Rim Stroeks, ZENIT consultant, chemical engineer and consummate European, because, after all, “it is people who make markets”. Representative for the whole NRW.Europa team, we would like to introduce Rim to you here. 

Rim, 54, has been out and about in the European market for around 15 years and is something like the personification of the free movement of goods, services, capital and people. It was precisely for this purpose that the European single market was launched back in 1993. Even though there is still a lot to do and the challenges are great, countless experts like Rim are working every day to remove obstacles, point out potential and overcome borders.

He does this not only as part of the NRW.Europa team but also in his private life. As a “frontier worker” who commutes between his home country and his place of residence in the Netherlands and his workplace at ZENIT, the North Rhine-Westphalian partner of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), Rim knows what makes people and companies on both sides of the border tick and is familiar with regional peculiarities.


Personal contacts
In 2008, he began working for a Dutch organisation similar to ZENIT. He quickly built up an international network for his corporate clients that brought them tangible benefits. From there, he made contact with Mülheim, where he has been part of the team since 2020, specialising in the industrial high-tech sector. This also fits perfectly with his role as chair of the “Electronics” Sector Group, one of the EEN’s 15 groups with a focus on a specific sector.

The most important thing about his work, he says, is networking – not only for himself but also for Europe: “Europe is a collection of states with their own traditions and cultures, which understand that cooperation is the lifeblood for surviving in globalised markets. Only in this way can we help to shape the future in a highly competitive international market and safeguard our values.” Here, very good personal contacts in the Network play a prominent role, he adds. It is therefore no surprise that he always finds the right contacts among the 600 EEN partners for his industrial clients, but also for start-ups and regional stakeholders.

That is why he cultivates these contacts not only in his everyday work. Wherever possible, visits to local Network partners are on his agenda even when he is on holiday. And, of course, his wife and child come along too.  

The EU single market in figures:

  • The single market is home to 23 million companies.
  • In 2021, the single market’s GDP was €14,522bn.
  • 17 million EU citizens live or work in an EU country other than their own.
  • Trade within the single market accounts for 56 million jobs.

Source: European Council on the single market


Contact point in NRW: the NRW.Europa team
Since 2008, the NRW.Europa team has assisted with around 14,000 enquiries from small and medium-sized enterprises in areas such as innovation, funding/financing and other EU topics, welcomed 20,000 participants to events and helped to conclude 800 cooperation agreements. The consortium, comprising ZENIT and NRW.BANK, together with the associated partners NRW.Global Business and IHK NRW, is embedded in the Enterprise Europe Network, with around 600 partners in 60 countries the largest consulting and technology transfer network worldwide. The project is financed by the EU, the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, and NRW.BANK.

The whole NRW.Europa team looks forward to intriguing questions and interesting tasks!

Find further infos via:

#SingleMarket30 – short video (in German) on Enterprise Europe Network services
The European Parliament on 30 years of the EU single market



ZENIT GmbH / Enterprise Europe Network
für Nordrhein-Westfalen NRW.Europa
Rim Stroeks
Tel: +49 208 3000 4 0

Hans H. Stein
Tel: +49 208 3000 4 53