Europe appears to be on a quest for so-called 'European champions'. These firms have become a symbol and measure for European competitiveness. To date, we know little about which firms would qualify as European champions and how they affect and are affected by the single market. In this article, we develop a conceptual framework for the analysis of European champions in the context of the single market and assess related European as well as national policy (initiatives). In sum, the single market needs a broad policy approach to maintain and increase its competitiveness which depends on the performance of the European economy as a whole.