The Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on services in the internal market (Services Directive) came into force on 28 December 2006 and had to be implemented by the member states by 28 December 2009. It shall reduce existing legal and administrative obstacles, support cross-border trade of services and by that contribute to the completion of an internal market. It is an important reform project in the implementation of the Lisbon strategy.
The Services Directive applies to a broad range of service branches, which is not exclusively defined. Generally it applies to all services which may be traded in the market. Included are trade, catering, crafts, IT-services, research and development, business services and technical services, consulting and the construction industry. However, the Services Directive has some exceptions and clarifications in order to protect particularly sensitive areas or areas governed by other legislation. For example, labour law, civil and criminal law are excluded but also areas such as health, social services, transport and financial services.
Key elements are in particular: * Reviews of legislation in order to reduce obstacles and barriers for the free movement of services and the freedom of establishment. * Enable electronic completion of procedures. * Setup of Points of Single Contact, at which service providers may complete procedures and formalities necessary to take up and exercise the services.