Business services

Business services (defined here as NACE Rev. 1.1 Divisions 72 and 74) are a driver of the knowledge-based economy. Their labour-intensive nature has also attracted interest in their potential as providers of new jobs in the future.

Contributing to the recent increase in the demand for business services, the growing trend in outsourcing has seen many enterprises use service providers for non-core professional activities.

Technological progress and the Internet are also important factors which have provided new production possibilities and new modes of supply.

Beyond the establishment of the framework of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and greater openness of international markets, the European Services Directive (2006/123/EC) should further strengthen the business services sector on the international stage. It 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;
  • make it easier for businesses to provide and use cross-border services within the EU, increasing cross-border competition.

Given the flexibility and dynamics of the business services sector, it is important for analysts to have a detailed knowledge of both clients and products (which are becoming increasingly non-standard and customised according to client needs) in order to further their understanding of market forces in this domain.

In order to improve statistical coverage and respond to user needs, Eurostat has developed statistics on these dynamic areas of the economy since early 2000 with participating countries providing statistics on a voluntary basis.

From the reference year 2008 onwards, the business services data collection has become part of the regular annual data collection of SBS. Business services statistics are now based on Annex VIII of the SBS Regulation (recast).