Business services encompass a varied selection of sectors ranging from technical services (e.g. engineering and architecture, IT) to other professional services such as legal services, employment services and facility management. It is one of the largest services sectors contributing to 11% of the EU GDP. Business services are of particular importance to European competitiveness, as they are essential to manufacturing and other service sectors and they are more and more used to enhance the value of products through new combinations of goods and services.
With their relatively low average productivity and persisting legal barriers, business services have a significant untapped growth potential. EU internal market legislation and policy actions in this area aim at removing the obstacles and stimulating the competitiveness of the sector.
Thanks to the Services Directive, business service providers can more easily establish in another Member State or provide their services on a cross-border basis. It covers a large number of business services, with a few exceptions, such as private security services, services of temporary work agencies and notaries.
The Professional Qualifications Directive facilitates the recognition of professional qualifications for EU professionals wishing to work in another EU country. Professions such as accountants, lawyers, consultants and engineers, offering their services to a large extent to businesses, are regulated in the majority of Member States.
To analyse the untapped potential of this important sector and provide a new impetus to policy development in this area, the Commission has set up a High Level Group on business services. This initiative has been announced in two flagship Communications: An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era and A Single Market Act I.