To create a true internal market for services in 2010, the Services Directive «aims to facilitate freedom of establishment for service providers in other Member States and the freedom to provide services between Member States. The directive also aims to broaden the choice of recipients of services and improve the quality of such services to consumers and businesses using these services.
Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market [Official Journal L 376 of 27.12.2006].
This directive was made in the context of the «Lisbon strategy» and proposed four major goals to achieve an internal market for services:
■ facilitating freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services in the EU;
■ strengthening the rights of recipients of services as users of such services;
■ enhance the quality of services;
■ establish effective administrative cooperation between Member States.
This Directive establishes a general legal framework that encourages the exercise of freedom of establishment for service providers and the free movement of services, while guaranteeing a high quality of services.
The Directive establishes a general legal framework for any service provided in exchange for financial remuneration (except the excluded sectors) taking into account at the same time, the specificity of certain activities or professions.
Following services are excluded:
■ non-economic services of general interest;
■ Financial services (such as banking, credit, insurance and reinsurance, occupational or personal pensions, securities, investment funds and payments);
■ electronic communications services as regards the areas governed by the procurement directives;
■ transport services, including port services;
■ the services of temporary employment;
■ health services;
■ audiovisual services;
■ the gambling activities;
■ activities related to the exercise of public authority
■ certain social services (relating to social housing, childcare and support to people in need);
■ private security services;
■ the services provided by notaries and bailiffs appointed by an official act of government.
Under this Directive, Member States shall verify and, where appropriate, simplify the procedures and formalities applicable to access to a service activity and exercise.
In particular, the Directive provides:
■ the creation of single windows in which a provider can make all necessary arrangements to carry on business;
■ required to enable the completion of these procedures electronically.
Remove legal and administrative obstacles to the development of service activities
To facilitate freedom of establishment, the Directive provides:
■ the duty to assess the compatibility of the licensing arrangements, based on the principles of non discrimination and proportionality, and to respect certain principles concerning the conditions and procedures applicable to service activities;
■ the prohibition of certain legal requirements that remain in the legislation of certain Member States and can not be justified, as the demands of citizenship;
■ the duty to assess the compatibility of other legal requirements based on the principles of non discrimination and proportionality.
Time facilitate the free provision of cross border services
In order to improve the free provision of services, the Directive provides that Member States must ensure in its territory free access to the services business and its free exercise. The Member State to which the service provider moves can only impose respect for their own requirements that are non-discriminatory, proportional and justified for reasons of public order, public safety, public health or environmental protection.
The Directive also provides for a number of important exceptions to this principle, as for example in terms of professional qualifications, posting of workers and in the case of services of general economic interest.
Strengthen the rights of consumers and service users
Under the protection of the rights of recipients of services, the Directive:
■ affirms the right of recipients to use services from other Member States;
■ establishes the right of recipients to obtain information on the rules applicable to providers regardless of their place of establishment and services offered by a service provider.
Ensuring quality of services
With respect to the quality of services, the Directive aims to:
■ improve the quality of services, for example, encouraging the voluntary certification of activities or the development of quality charters;
■ encourage the development of European codes of conduct, particularly by agencies or professional associations.
Establish effective administrative cooperation between Member States
To facilitate the establishment and free movement of services in the European Union Directive:
■ establishing a binding legal obligation for Member States to cooperate with authorities in other Member States to ensure effective control of service activities in the Union and at the same time, avoiding multiple inspections, also has created a warning mechanism between Member States;
■ establish an electronic information exchange between Member States is vital for establishing effective administrative cooperation between Member States.
In the framework of the Lisbon Strategy, the Commission has responded to the request of the European Council to develop a policy to remove obstacles to the free movement of services and freedom of establishment for service providers.
Thus, the Commission adopted on 13 January 2004 a «proposal for a Directive on Services in the Internal Market [COM (2004) 2], also known as the Services Directive.»
On February 16, 2006, the European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted on first reading, a number of amendments to the proposal. The compromise reached by the Parliament was taken by the Commission in its amended proposal, dated April 4, 2006 [COM (2006) 160 final], and also formed the basis of the common position adopted on the July 24, 2006.
On November 15, 2006, Parliament declared its second reading, without substantial modification of the common position, and the Council finally adopted the Directive on 12 December 2006. This directive must be transposed by Member States before the end of 2009