EU Services Directive

The Services Directive (Directive 2006/123/EC) ensures that businesses providing services can easily do this within the Single Market. The Directive establishes general provisions facilitating the exercise of the freedom of establishment for providers of services and the free movement of services, while maintaining a high quality of services. In the Netherlands, the Services Directive was implemented in the Dienstenwet (Dutch Services Act).

Why was the Services Directive needed?

In the early 2000s, the European Commission concluded that the Single Market was still not functioning as it should. There were still many barriers to the free movement of services. Therefore, the Services Directive was adopted in 2006. The aim of this Directive was to ensure a working single market for services by the end of the decade.

What are the obligations for local and regional authorities under the Directive?

The Services Directive had to be implemented into the national legislation of the Member States by 28 December 2009. The Directive imposes several obligations on local and regional authorities, which are:

  • In certain cases, new or updated laws, regulations or administrative provisions that fall within the ambit of the Services Directive must be notified;
  • Authorization schemes and requirements that fall within the ambit of the Services Directive have to fulfil the conditions listed therein;
  • Providers of services should be able to complete all procedures and formalities through a ‘point of single contact’;
  • Member States should cooperate with each other through the Internal Market Information System (IMI), a multilingual online tool that facilitates the exchange of information between public authorities involved in the practical implementation of EU law.

The aim of the Services Directive

The aim of the Directive is to ensure that every provider of services, from construction companies to hairdressers, can freely provide their services or become established in another Member State. It is, therefore, necessary to remove barriers to the freedom of establishment for providers of services in the Member States and barriers to the free movement of services between Member States.

Services Directive in practice

Local and regional authorities have to take the Services Directive into account in situations where a provider of services from another Member State wants to become established or provide services in a province or municipality of another Member State without being established there. To ensure that providers of services can move freely within the EU, the costs and administrative burden for providing services should be reduced. Local and regional authorities have to consider this when applying authorization schemes.