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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Implementation of the Services Directive

All EU countries had to transpose the Services Directive into national legislation by 28 December 2009. It required important changes in the laws of all EU countries and set up a number of ambitious projects such as the Points of Single Contact. The European Commission monitored the directive’s implementation and works on further improvements to the single market for services.

Handbook for EU countries

To help national authorities implement the services directive, the European Commission prepared a Handbook on services directive (2022).

The 2008 version of the Handbook is still available.

Implementation of the services directive in EU countries

To implement the general principles and obligations of the services directive, EU countries had to introduce new laws and modify or abolish existing legislation not complying with the directive

  • most EU countries decided to adopt 1 horizontal law
  • some EU countries (Germany, France) implemented several acts

See how all the EU countries transposed the services directive into their national legislation.

Enforcement instrument to the services directive: initiative to modernise the notification procedure for services

The services directive established that national rules restricting the right of establishment and the freedom to provide services falling under the Directive must be non-discriminatory, proportionate and justified by public interest objectives. To ensure that all new regulatory measures imposed by EU countries fulfil these conditions and to prevent new barriers, the Services Directive introduced a procedure whereby EU countries shall notify the Commission of new or changed regulatory measures affecting services. This should allow for an assessment of whether such measures are justified and proportionate.

Experience and assessment of the application of the current notification procedure under the services directive point to a number of difficulties with it. These issues mean that it is not possible to ensure an effective preventive enforcement of the services directive, i.e. ensuring that all new and changed national regulation is non-discriminatory, justified and proportionate, without the Commission having to initiate legal infringement proceedings against already adopted measures.

The single market strategy of 28 October 2015 announced several actions to further develop the single market for services. Improving the delivery of the services directive by reforming the notification procedure is one of these actions.

To develop its policy proposal, the Commission conducted an extensive stakeholder consultation, the results of which are now available.

Evaluation of the implementation

Learn more about the evaluation of the implementation of the services directive by EU countries.

Mapping and assessment of legal and administrative barriers in the services sector (2021)

The study 'Mapping and assessment of removal of legal and administrative barriers in the services sector' assesses the developments in the regulation of services markets and offers an overview of the remaining barriers, notably, but not exclusively, those falling under the Services Directive. The study also clarifies how these barriers have evolved over time.

The report concludes that the overall evolution of services barriers in 2006-2017 can be characterised as a small decrease of the absolute level of barriers, seen in almost all sectors. The overall speed of barrier reduction must, however, be characterised as slow. More reform efforts are needed in order to achieve the overall objective of the Services Directive to remove regulatory and administrative barriers faced by service providers when operating in the single market.

Summary report: Mapping and assessment of legal and administrative barriers in the services sector

Annexes: Underlying legal reports and data

Economic assessment of the impact of removing barriers in the services sector

Based on the results of the study ‘Mapping and assessment of legal and administrative barriers in the services sector’, an economic analysis was performed to quantify the macroeconomic impact of reforms that took place between 2006 and 2017, as well as to estimate the impact of hypothetical additional reforms aimed at further reducing regulatory restrictions to the provision of services in the single market from 2017 onwards. This analysis concluded that the removal of barriers realised between 2006 and 2017 would result in discounted cumulative gains of 2.1% of GDP by 2027. Additional ambitious reforms could generate an additional growth potential of up to 2.5% of GDP by 2027, resulting in a total cumulative gain in GDP of up to 4.65% by 2027.

Policy insight: A RHOMOLO assessment of the impact of regulation in the EU Services sector

Technical report: A general equilibrium analysis of the economic impact of the post-2006 EU regulation in the services sector