Services package: Council agrees conditions to ease provision of services and mobility of professionals

The Council agreed on general approaches on two proposals of the “Services Package” to make the internal market more effective:

– a draft directive laying down rules on notification for authorisation requirements in the services sector, and

– a draft directive aimed at carrying out a proportionality test before adoption of new regulation of professions.

A Council general approach allows starting negotiations with the European Parliament.

“Businesses and professionals are still confronted with disproportionate regulation to provide services across borders. The Services Package is an essential tool to facilitate the movement of people and services. Companies, professionals and consumers will benefit greatly from better access to different professional activities and services”, said Chris Cardona, Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business of Malta.

Notification procedure in the services sector

The draft directive seeks to ensure that new national measures approved in member states fulfil the necessary conditions to facilitate the competitiveness and integration of the single market in the services sector.

More specifically, it aims at improving the current notification procedure of the Services Directive (2006/123/EC). This procedure provides that member states must notify to the Commission new or changed authorisation schemes or requirements falling under the scope of the Services Directive in order to guarantee its correct implementation.

The Council’s text takes into account the need to enhance the existing notification procedure and the need to respect the principles of proportionality and of subsidiarity, in particular the prerogatives of national parliaments and administrative authorities.

The objective of the Services Directive is to remove barriers to the establishment of service providers and the temporary provision of cross-border services.

Professions: tests before adoption of new national rules

The draft directive seeks to improve transparency on the way certain professions are regulated in the member states.

More specifically, it aims at ensuring that national measures are proportionate and do not unduly restrict access to professions or create unjustified burdens in the internal market.

When regulating professions, member states will have to make an assessment as to whether the new or amended rules are justified so as to appreciate their effect on stakeholders and businesses. The future directive will therefore harmonise the way in which these proportionality tests are carried out and the criteria that have to be applied, in accordance with the European Court of Justice rulings.

The obligation to carry out a proportionality test before introducing new regulation of professions will supplement provisions of the Professional Qualifications Directive (2013/55/EU).

The Services Package

The “Services Package”, released on 10 January 2017, contains the following legislative proposals:

  • Proposal for a services e-card
  • Proposal for a services notification procedure
  • Proposal for a proportionality test before adoption of new regulation of professions

It also includes guidance on reform recommendations for regulation in professional services.

Promoting the competitiveness of services markets is essential for the creation of jobs and growth in the EU, with the services sector accounting for around 70% of the EU’s GDP.