Internal Market: a fresh boost to the services sector   

The proposed Commission measures aim to make it easier for services providers to navigate administrative formalities, and to help member states identify overly burdensome or outdated requirements on professionals operating domestically or across borders.

The four concrete initiatives the Commission adopted on 10 January 2017 are:

·     A new European Services e-card

A simplified electronic procedure will make it easier for providers of business and construction services to complete the administrative formalities required to provide services abroad. They will have to liaise with a single interlocutor in their home country (in their own language). The home country interlocutor would then verify the necessary data and transmit it to the host member state. The host member state retains the current power to apply domestic regulatory requirements and to decide whether the applicant can offer services on its territory. The e-card would not affect existing employer obligations or workers' rights.

·     A proportionality assessment of national rules on professional services

Around 50 million people – 22% of the European labour force – work in professions to which access is conditional upon the possession of specific qualifications or for which the use of a specific title is protected, e.g. pharmacists or architects.

The EU does not regulate or deregulate professions – this remains a national prerogative. But under EU law, a member state needs to establish whether new national professional requirements are necessary and balanced. To ensure a coherent and consistent approach, the Commission is proposing to streamline and clarify how member states should undertake a comprehensive and transparent proportionality test before adopting or amending national rules on professional services.

·     Guidance for national reforms in regulation of professions:

The Commission offers guidance on national reform needs in the regulation of professional services with high growth and jobs potential: architects, engineers, lawyers, accountants, patent agents, real estate agents and tourist guides. Member states are invited to assess whether professional requirements fulfil the declared national public policy objectives. This guidance complements the European Semester evaluations by specifically addressing the requirements applicable to these professions.

·     Improved notification of draft national laws on services

EU law already requires member states to notify changes to national rules on services to the Commission, providing the EU executive and other member states with the opportunity to raise potential concerns about possible inconsistencies with EU legislation early in the process.

The Commission is proposing improvements to this mechanism to make the process more timely, effective and transparent.