Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The Services Directive is finally in force

euinside, December 29, 2009

As of 28th of December 2009 the long-expected Services Directive is already in force. It was endorsed by EU member states in December 2006 aimed at facilitating the internal market of services. But the adoption of the directive caused a lot of disputes which extended the deadline for its entering into force and created the threat of the so called "polish plumber".

The document aims at facilitating both establishment and temporary trade in services in Europe, which includes services in sectors such as construction, tourism, hotel and restaurant, and retail trade, as well as information and consultancy services in management, administration, certification and testing. The implementation of the Directive gives companies from one member states possibilities to have the same conditions for trade in other nations within the EU. This means that EU member states should not put any barriers related to companies' or entrepreneurs' nationalities where the services are offered.

The opportunity of "points of single contact" is also introduced. This is a web portal that will contain information about the conditions for offering services in a certain member state. Companies will be able to use the portal to find the most appropriate institution and to apply electronically for a permit or to report their activities. The portal is still under construction but it is expected to start operating in the beginning of next year. Each member state is obliged to create its own points of single contact. The Swedish Presidency of the EU has already offered its points of single contact - telephone numbers and websites of institutions responsible for the services in Sweden.

Export of services is the fastest growing sector of the Swedish economy. On average, it has grown by 9 per cent a year since 1995. There are currently some 3.4 million people in Sweden who work in the services sector.