Study on the implementation of the Services Directive

A study on the implementation of the Services Directive commissioned by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament (IMCO) was published in September. The study concludes that the main problem reported by most EU Member States in dealing with the implementation of the Directive was the demarcation between the Services Directive and the Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications. The European Commission is currently evaluating the Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications and CEPI encourages it to take into account the relationship between the two directives.

The Services Directive is intended to create a genuine internal market for services, but its implementation (by the original deadline of 28 December 2009) has been delayed in a number of Member States. A study commissioned by IMCO and prepared by Ramboll Management Consulting analyses the current state of implementation of the Services Directive in EU Member States, including the progress made in adopting new legislation and screening and adapting existing legislation, the establishment of Points of Single Contact and administrative cooperation between the Member States.

Overall, the screening of legislation has been completed in all the Member States covered in the report (which includes detailed questions for seven countries, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Sweden). Changes to existing legislation, or the adoption of new legislation, should be completed in the majority of Member States by the end of 2010. All Member States but two have established Single Points of Contact under the Directive.

The implementation process has involved stakeholders in different countries, mainly social partners, such as trade unions, employers' associations and other interest organizations. In some cases broader public consultations have taken place. The number of abolished authorization schemes is quite low. The study provides an interesting overview of the status of implementation in the investigated Member States and different actions taken concerning authorization schemes concerning access to a service activity or the exercise thereof. The Directive requires that these should be abolished or replaced by less restrictive means.

Article 25 of the Services Directive obliges Member States to ensure that providers are not subjected to requirements obliging them to exercise their service activity exclusively or which restrict the exercise of different activities jointly, or in partnership. The regulated professions (including estate agents in countries where the profession is regulated) may be subject to such requirements in order to ensure their independence and impartiality and prevent conflicts of interest.

The study will be considered further by IMCO in reviewing the implementation of the Directive.

A copy of the study is available on the EP website