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.
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, health, social services, transport and financial services are excluded. In addition, the Directive does not apply to labour law, civil and criminal law..
Key elements are in particular:
- Setup of Points of Single Contact, at which service providers may complete procedures and formalities necessary to take up and exercise the services.
- Enable electronic completion of procedures.
- Creation of information portals, so that service providers can learn about requirements in other states already in their home state.
- Elimination of obstacles and barriers for the free movement of services and the freedom of establishment as well as to reduce discrimination against foreign service providers (reviews of legislation).