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Safe services - an overview

We need to improve our knowledge of risks related to specific consumer services.

The service sector

The service sector is the driving force of economic growth in the EU: it accounts for around 70% of GDP and employment in the majority of Member States.

Services are to be found in all areas of modern economies. They range from traditional demand-based service sectors such as transport, telecommunications, tourism and the regulated professions, to more recently developed services such as waste management, energy conservation, business services and data processing.

Safety rules

Some specific services involve risks to the health and physical safety of the consumer, for example, injuries caused by a lack of information, poor supervision of organised adventurous sports activities or skin damage by beauty treatment.

At the moment, many safety rules for services are set at national level. The transport sector is an example of a sector for which many rules also exist at European level.

Information is needed

It is as yet unclear whether it is necessary to harmonise the safety rules for services in general at EU level.

A Report on the Safety of Services for Consumers concluded that there is not sufficient data and information on risk and safety aspects of services. Consequently, the priority for Community action is first of all to improve the knowledge base.

Service sectors of particular interest

The following areas have attracted specific interest in recent years: