View Full Version : EU Parliament liberalises services across Europe

17-02-06, 11:08
European Parliament : Free movement of services: MEPs take a big step forward (http://www.europarl.eu.int/news/expert/infopress_page/056-5221-47-2-7-909-20060213IPR05194-16-02-2006-2006--true/default_en.htm)

After two years of work, the European Parliament adopted, by a large majority, a first-reading report on legislation opening up the EU single market for services, a major issue for the Union. The Commission's initial proposal has been thoroughly revised. The objective however remains the same: the elimination of obstacles to the free movement of services. Parliament also clarified that the directive will not alter workers' social rights nor will it change existing labour law.
If the free movement of services in the European market - a principle laid down in the EC Treaty - is to become a reality, certain barriers must be removed, for example the obstacles preventing a service provider from setting up shop in another Member State or operating temporarily across borders.
The following sectors are covered by the proposed directive:

Services of general economic interest such as postal services, water supply, electricity, waste treatment are included in the scope of the directive. Business services such as management consultancy, certification and testing, facilities management (including office maintenance and security), advertising, recruitment services and the services of commercial agents.

Services provided both to businesses and to consumers, including real estate services such as estate agencies, construction (including the services of architects), distributive trades, the organisation of trade fairs, car rental, and travel agencies. Consumer services such as tourism, leisure services, sports centres and amusement parks are also included.

The following sectors are not covered by the proposed directive:

Parliament voted to exclude both public private healthcare from the directive. Industries covered by legislation specific to their sector are also excluded, e.g. financial services, electronic communications services and networks, and transport. Other areas excluded are legal services, health care, audiovisual services, gambling and lotteries, and professions and activities linked to the exercise of public authority (e.g. notaries) and tax services. Services of economic interest are also excluded.

Naturally, sectors that are not included are those that may not exist in all member states (e.g. notaries) or not be legal everywhere (gambling), or are subject to different laws until further harmonisation (tax services, healthcare...).

I suppose that this directive will only make it easier for companies to work across the EU, as opposed to making it possible, as it obviously already is. There are already real estate agencies (e.g. Immostreet (http://www.eupedia.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump.cgi?ID=228931)), travel agencies (e.g. STA Travel (http://www.eupedia.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump.cgi?ID=230571)) and even electricity companies (check list (http://www.eupedia.com/directory/26111/38999/39013/index.html)) operating in several EU countries.

I am looking forward to a European Postal Services, although each member state could still print their own stamps, for collectors' sake (a bit like for Euro coins). Tariffs already include a common fare for all 'other European countries' (i.e. outside the country where the letter is sent from), but I still find it ludicrous that sending a letter from a French village right across the Belgian, German, Italian or Spanish border (e.g. 5km away) costs more than sending it to the other end of France (e.g. 1000km away), for instance.