Services Directive: Commission assesses implementation
By Sophie Mosca | Thursday 07 June 2012
The European Commission has taken stock of the Services Directive (2006/123/EC), drawing up three reports to be presented on 8 June. They focus on implementation of the directive, the result of the performance check evaluating how EU rules are applied to businesses on a day-to-day basis, and application of Article 20.2 on non-discrimination among service recipients on grounds of nationality or country of residence. Actions are announced, particularly in services sectors with considerable economic weight and higher than average growth potential.
The Services Directive, adopted in 2006 to create a regulatory environment in which companies and consumers can make the most of the single market’s opportunities, was due to be transposed in 2009. Transposition has been delayed, however, and implementation is not satisfactory, notes the report on this point. Obstacles still exist in particular for cross-border services for businesses (11.7% of GDP). The Commission wishes to improve this record, noting that proper implementation “would generate an additional 0.8% of GDP in the coming five to ten years”. It intends to place emphasis on services for businesses, construction, tourism and retail trade. The executive will impose proper implementation on member states, with zero tolerance, by the end of 2013, and will step up its vigilance on conformity with related legislation, such as the directives on e-commerce and professional qualifications. To identify burdens on service companies resulting from national laws not in conformity, it will apply to this broader scope the mutual evaluation exercise by capitals for 2013.
Another key measure is improvement of the single points of contact established by the Services Directive to make it easier for service companies to obtain information in their home state and/or another state by grouping all information and administrative formalities online. The second generation of these points of contact will have to be more user-friendly, multilingual and cover a wider range of procedures.
The EU executive also intends to tackle the problem of non-recognition from one state to the next of insurance coverage or accreditations or authorisations to practice for certain experts. It advocates greater harmonisation of legislation in sectors like consumer protection and retail distribution (which will be covered by a specific action plan by the end of 2012).
Based on the conclusions of the report on non-discrimination among consumers – which highlights numerous refusals to provide services due to the buyer’s location or to accept payment by a bank card issued in a state other than the state of purchase – special attention will be given to compliance with these provisions.