Demand for services

The importance of services in the EU economy has risen, while the EU's industrial sector has been characterised by outsourcing and subcontracting, as well as the globalisation of production.

Since services are an important and growing area of the EU economy, they have attracted increasing political and economic interest, as a current and future motor for growth.

One reason why the services sector has grown in importance is the outsourcing phenomenon that has seen the demand for services increase, as many enterprises use service providers either for:

  • non-core activities (such as transport or marketing services), or;
  • for part of their core activities to increase flexibility (for example, through the use of labour recruitment services).

Other reasons include technological developments – particularly in relation to information and communication technologies (ICT), which may allow services to be delivered over considerable distances (for example, Internet sales or call centres).

The objective of the development project on the demand for services was to collect information on the functioning of the internal market for services, allowing a more profound understanding of the extent of the use of services in the European economy. It provides information on:

  • service providers;
  • types of service purchased;
  • the location of the main service provider;
  • barriers to purchasing services;
  • the level of expectations for future purchases, as well as;
  • information on service related investments in intangibles (such as tradable rights, ICT, R&D, marketing and sales).

The European services Directive (2006/123/EC) seeks to promote an internal market in services through the removal of legal and administrative barriers that have prevented enterprises from one Member State providing similar services in another Member State. The Directive aims to make it easier for businesses to provide and use cross-border services within the EU, increasing cross-border competition.