Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and the European Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market is one of the most important pieces of European legislation in the area of provision of services. Assumptions made in the Directive determine, inter alia:
- the need to review and simplify the administrative procedures connected with carrying out a service activity by Member States,
- the obligation to create points of single contact as comprehensive service entity for service providers by the Member States.
- the right of service providers and recipients of services to easy access through points of single contact to information on:
- requirements, procedures and formalities to be completed in order to access and to exercise service activities;
- contact details of the competent authorities for matters relating to the taking up and pursuit of service activities,
- the means and conditions for accessing public registers and public databases on service providers and services,
- generally available legal measures in the event of a dispute between the competent authorities and a service provider or the recipient, or between a provider and a recipient or between providers;
- contact details of associations or organisations (other than the competent authorities) which can provide practical assistance to service providers and recipients,.
- rules for the application of procedures by electronic means.
The Directive is horizontal in nature and covers a wide variety of services representing around 40 % of GDP and employment in EU. In the light of the latest research, the potential of the services sector remains largely untapped. Only 8 % of small businesses are trading beyond their countries' national borders. In the case of others, leaving aside the issue of business decision,it is attributable to the legal and administrative burdens in the Member States.
The key issues in the area of the Services Directive are as follows:
- Review and simplification of administrative procedures (including documents, statements concerning the start-up, runing, closure of a company) - no duplication of formal requirements, avoiding duplication of checks on service providers.
- The creation of points of single contact - with the possibility of fulfilling procedures by electronic means and access to information on national requirements and procedures
- Freedom of establishment - the possibility of starting and running business both in own country and abroad (in the form of a new business or new premises, e.g. a branch)
- Freedom to provide services (possibility for the temporary provision of services in another Member State, without the obligation of entry in the register, the register of entrepreneurs, obtaining authorisation, etc.)
More information on the Services Directive can be found, inter alia, on the European Commission website.
The text of the Directive (also in English) can be found here