The strategies of economic policy of the small European states have always been formulated based on the awareness of the fact that limited internal resources require adequate access to the domestic economy. The attraction of investors, capitals and consumers, on one side, the widening of the reference market for domestic enterprises, on the other, represent the key points underlying the economic development for countries such as San Marino. The physiological "structural" limits of small states make such countries sensitive to the need for internationalisation; to satisfy such need, however, it is necessary to face the need to guarantee the maintenance of the sovereignty, identities and peculiarities that are at the base of their existence. In other words, this particular trade-off, between the need to open and the need to preserve, convinced, in the past, countries such as San Marino, Monaco, Andorra and Liechtenstein, although "European States" in their own right, for reasons that are stronger than the simple geographical positioning, not to privilege a path common to that of the nations that created the European Union, without giving up stable and effective relationships that could lead to agreements intended to overcome what could have inevitably become physical barriers to the trading with the countries of the European Union.
In an international economic environment increasingly more globalised and troubled, the small European states are today required to address more complex challenges: this circumstance evidenced the need for a new pattern of relationships with the EU aimed at overcoming the status of "non-EU country" that today, more than in the past, represents a limit to the development. For these reasons, San Marino, Andorra and Monaco, with different time schedules and assumptions, initiated independent paths aimed at overcoming such condition and achieving an agreement with the European Union that could guarantee greater integration in the single market.
The European Union appreciated these activities and after a period of assessments and discussions, reached a conclusion that allows to satisfy the needs of the three states: "The Council reaffirms that a closer association of Andorra, Monaco and San Marino with the EU is also in the interest of the EU itself. It should contribute to addressing gaps and overcoming inconsistencies in relations, which are currently fragmented and diverge from one country to the other. Furthermore, enhanced participation of the three countries in the internal market could have a positive, though limited economic impact on the EU, in particular with regard to employment in the neighbouring regions and cross-border economic activity." (abstract from the Conclusions on EU relations with the Principality of Andorra, the Republic of San Marino and the Principality of Monaco, dated 16 December 2013).
The Conclusions of the Council represent a significant breakthrough as regards to the relations between San Marino and the EU, since they consolidate the political will to start negotiations for the execution of an association agreement that would grant to San Marino a greater integration with the single European market.