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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

To assess EU countries' implementation of the Services Directive, a number of evaluation exercises were carried out. Even though much progress has already been achieved, some barriers to the cross-border trade of services in the EU still remain in place. These exercises (‘peer reviews’) allow EU countries together with the European Commission to review and assess the requirements applicable in different countries and exchange best practice.

Mutual evaluation (2010-11) and performance check (2011-12)

  • Mutual evaluation process - the mutual evaluation process consisted of a thorough evaluation of the regulatory framework applicable to services activities in EU countries following the implementation of the Services Directive. Requirements such as prior authorisation, registration requirements and territorial restrictions were evaluated. Results and measures to further improve the Single Market for Services were presented in January 2011. The process revealed barriers such as a wide use of reserved service activities for certain operators, restrictive legal form, and shareholdings requirements and insurance obligations.
  • Performance check exercise - the performance check consisted of an assessment of how different pieces of EU legislation (the Services Directive, the e-Commerce Directive and the Professional Qualifications Directive) interact and are jointly applied by EU countries in three important economic sectors (construction, business services and tourism). The exercise revealed deficient implementation of the three above mentioned Directives.

Implementation report - the services package (2011)

To report on the implementation of the Services Directive, the Commission adopted a services package in 2012. The package:

  • took stock of progress achieved by EU countries in removing unjustified barriers to the Single Market for Services
  • identified restrictions that have not yet been abolished, such as such as the use of residency requirements or economic needs tests
  • proposed measures to improve the functioning of the Single Market for Services.

    Peer review (2012-13)

    The services package showed that even though some EU countries liberalised or abolished legal form and shareholding requirements as part of their implementation of the Services Directive, these requirements still remain widespread. By contrast, most compulsory tariffs seem to have been abolished in the EU.

    The Commission therefore conducted a peer review on legal form and shareholding requirements. Discussions between EU countries took place from the end of 2012 to the beginning of 2013. The findings of the peer review are presented in the Staff Working Document that accompanies the Communication on evaluating national regulations on access to professions.

    Assessment of implementation measures in EU countries

    The study looks at national measures implementing the provision of the Services Directive and it focuses on the provision of Articles 14, 15 and 16.

    Stakeholder workshops on businesses’ experience (2014-15)

    To provide evidence of the remaining obstacles to a fully functioning Single Market for Services, the Commission and EU countries carried out nine stakeholder workshops in key cross-border regions between September and November 2014 within the context of the Single Market Forum. These workshops targeted small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are still facing difficulties providing or purchasing services across borders. In addition, a questionnaire was sent to stakeholders seeking additional evidence on their experiences.

    An analysis of the outcome of the stakeholder workshops (661 kB)

    Staff Working Documents (2014)

    The Commission also published two staff working documents on the national reforms in services markets and access to insurance for services provided in other EU countries: