This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
The EU’s services directive
WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?
It aims to remove barriers to trade in services in the EU, by:
simplifying administrative procedures for service providers;
enhancing the rights of consumers and businesses receiving services; and
fostering cooperation among EU countries.
In its scope, the directive covers a wide range of services including:
retail and wholesale trade in goods and services;
the activities of most regulated professions such as legal and tax advisers, architects and engineers;
business-related services such as office maintenance, management consultancy and event organisation; and
tourism and leisure services.
Certain services are excluded from the directive. These include financial services, certain electronic communications services, temporary work agencies’ services, private security services and gambling.
The directive allows businesses to be established in EU countries other than their own. For this to happen, EU countries must take various actions including:
setting up points of single contact for information and support on administrative procedures and ensuring that such procedures can be completed electronically;
reviewing and simplifying all their authorisation schemes concerning access to services;
requiring EU countries to abolish discriminatory requirements, such as nationality or residence, and restrictive requirements, such as economic needs tests that require businesses to prove to the authorities that there is a demand for their services.
Similar guarantees are provided for the rights of recipients of services (consumers or business) in order to strengthen their confidence in the single market. Thus, EU countries are required to:
remove obstacles for recipients wanting to use services supplied by providers established in another EU country, such as obligations to obtain an authorisation;
abolish discriminatory requirements based on the recipient’s nationality or place of residence;
make available general information and assistance on legal requirements, in particular consumer protection rules, and on redress procedures applicable in other EU countries.
The services directive had to be incorporated in the national legislation of all EU countries by 28 December 2009. In 2012, the European Commission adopted a communication on the implementation of the services directive. This report:
took stock of progress achieved by EU countries in removing unjustified barriers to the single market for services;
identified restrictions that have not yet been abolished, such as the use of residency requirements or economic needs tests; and
proposed measures to improve the functioning of the single market for services.
WHEN DOES THIS DIRECTIVE APPLY?
As of 28 December 2006. It had to be transposed into EU countries’ national law by 28 December 2009.
Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market (OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, pp. 36-68)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards a better functioning single market for services — building on the results of the mutual evaluation process of the services directive (COM(2011) 20 final, 27.1.2011)
Commission Decision 2011/130/EU of 25 February 2011 establishing minimum requirements for the cross-border processing of documents signed electronically by competent authorities under Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on services in the internal market (OJ L 53, 26.2.2011, pp. 66-72)
The successive amendments to Decision 2011/130/EU have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of the services directive. A partnership for new growth in services 2012-2015 (COM(2012) 261 final of 8 June 2012)
Commission Implementing Decision 2014/148/EU of 17 March 2014 amending Decision 2011/130/EU establishing minimum requirements for the cross-border processing of documents signed electronically by competent authorities under Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on services in the internal market (OJ L 80, 19.3.2014, pp. 7-9)
last update 09.11.2015