One more step towards a real EU Single Market for services

The lack of dynamism of European Single Market for services not affects the possibility for consumers to choose, but also prevents small and innovative businesses to grow, develop their activities and become more competitive. For that reason, the European Commission has adopted a set of targeted actions to tackle remaining problems and allow to fully enjoy the benefits Single Market for services.

At the presentation of the measures put forward by the European Commission in order to dynamise European Single Market for Services, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, stress the need for EU economy to unlock the further potential for growth that exists in an integrated Single Market for services. Help businesses grow, innovate and create more jobs are some of the targets of these measures which will also provide for better and more competitive services to EU consumers and businesses alike.

Dynamising EU Single Market for Services

Although services account for two thirds of employment and GDP in the EU, it is estimated that they account for only a fifth of the total intra-EU trade, and that only about 8% of European SMEs do business in other Member States. For that reason, the Commission has now put forward a series of measures specially focused on services market, which come on top of the measures which were already proposed back in October 2010 to improve the functioning of the European Single Market.

  • Making sure the Single Market works on the ground: in 2011 and 2012, the Commission will carry out a "performance check" of the Single Market for services from the user's perspective, taking into  account all other EU rules applying to services beyond the Services Directive and will assess how these different EU rules interact. The objective is to identify specific practical problems that hamper the internal market for services and how the interaction between different rules may have unintended effects.
  • Removing obstacles to cross-border services: The "mutual evaluation" provided particular evidence of difficulties in the cross-border provision of services without permanent establishment. The Commission will now closely monitor the effects of the Services Directive in this respect and will publish a first progress report by the end of 2011 and from then on annually. The emergence of new regulatory barriers to services in Member States' legislation must also be avoided.
  • Ensuring an ambitious implementation and thorough application of the Services Directive: The Commission will engage in bilateral dialogue with a number of Member States where there is evidence of problems with implementation of the Directive. Furthermore, the Commission will in 2011 carry out a first economic assessment of the effects of the implementation of the Directive and its impact on the functioning of the services markets.

For the fact is that, although the EU Services Directive represented an important step forward for Single Market, there is still a lot to be done in order to fully enjoy a European Single Market for services, a market which represents about 66% of EU GDP. Within this context, as identified in the Commission's Annual Growth Survey, the EU will only meet its ambitious Europe 2020 targets for sustainable and inclusive growth if urgent structural reforms are prioritised in services and product markets to improve the business environment.