The Services Directive provides for Points of Single Contact (PSC) to be set up in each Member State.
PSCs allow service providers to:
- Obtain all information about the procedures they need to complete to provide their services at home or in another EU country (e.g. company registration, business licences, recognition of professional qualifications);
Deal with all formalities via one single contact point; and
Complete the necessary steps remotely by electronic means.
PSCs have to make it possible for users to complete administrative procedures both for national situations (a travel agency in Rome that wants to open a branch in Palermo) and for cross-border situations (an architect in Warsaw who wants to take on a building project in Berlin). They are encouraged to provide their services in several languages and to offer personalised advice to users.
This assessment reflects mostly the state of play for 2012 (as outlined in the Commission staff working document ) but it also takes into account recent efforts to improve the functioning of the Points of Single Contact.
Quality and availability of information (1) measures how much of the required information is online and when available online whether the information is comprehensive, well-structured and easy to understand to the users: the scores above 75% were rated as "green" , below 40% as "red" , and "yellow" in the middle.
Online completion of procedures (2) measures the degree to which the completion of procedures is possible online (from simple downloading of the forms to most advanced webforms), additional tools allowing to pay the fees online or track the status of the application were also included: the scores above 70% were rated as "green", below 40% as "red", and "yellow" in the middle.
Accessibility, including for cross-border users (3) measures if the portal can be used by the foreign users and particular whether it is technically possible (e.g. if e-signatures are required for the completion of procedures, if there are means to handle e-signatures issued abroad) and whether it is easy for the foreign users to understand requirements applicable to them: the scores above 65% were rated as "green", below 40% as red, and "yellow" in the middle.
The three indicators (,  and ) are weighted differently, with most emphasis given to indicators : 50 % and : 30 % and least to indicator : 20 %.
The overall assessment takes this weighting into account. This assessment is not based on the assessment categories and their weightings as proposed to the Member States in the form of the PSC Charter.
The diversity of Points of Single Contact (PSC) in the EU makes it difficult to monitor and compare their development. However, there has been significant progress in a number of areas:
- All Member States have now set up at least a "first generation PSC". However, many Member States need to step up their efforts in making their PSCs respond to users' needs.
- The Communication on the implementation of the Services Directive, published in June 2012, highlighted the necessity of making the PSCs fully functional. In an accompanying commission staff working document , the Commission took stock of the development of the PSCs.
- In cooperation with Member States, the Commission proposed to establish a set of common criteria for the further development of PSCs in the form of a PSC charter.
Why are there such big differences between PSCs?
In contrast to other governance tools, PSCs do not use a centralised electronic system.
Member States are free to choose the most appropriate structure to reflect their legal and administrative realities.
A number of PSCs are embedded in mature, well-developed eGovernment structures, while others have been set up from scratch to comply with the Services Directive.
This often impacts on the scope of services available online.