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The Services Directive: freedom or fragmentation?

A conference marking 10 years of the Services Directive transposition

In light of the current situation with Covid-19, and considering travel and other restrictions for the invited audience, the conference has been postponed until further notice.

With warm-up lunch and drink reception
Venue: Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU, 4-10 Av. Cortenbergh, 1040 Brussels

28 December 2019 marked the 10-year anniversary of the transposition of the Services Directive into national law. It passed unnoticed due to the buzz around digital and the Green Deal.

Has the Services Directive, covering more than 40% of the service economy, delivered? Can it deliver more? What role could it have in the EU’s ambition for circular economy? What services agenda do we need for the EU of tomorrow, given the political impasse of today?

Over the last ten years there were many changes on the services markets and economy at large. One example is how digitalisation has speeded up the synergies between services and manufacturing. At the same time, measured in terms of trade, foreign direct investment, population and economy size, the EU has lost a part of its power globally. The fragmentation of the services market in the EU has led to the "alarmingly slower" productivity growth in services compared to the USA. Since the 2008 financial crisis, we have had a "lost decade" – as reported by Copenhagen Economics in the study Making EU trade in services work for all.

So, where are we between the freedom to provide services and fragmentation? Why is there a mismatch between the economic figures, enthusiastic statements by politicians on the importance of services, and persistent fragmentation on the ground?

Draft programme

Moderation: Jennifer Baker


Check-in and warm-up networking lunch

14.30-14.40 Opening of the conference

Services in Europe’s economy and remaining barriers

An interview with Director General of the European Commission’s DG GROW (tbc)


Ten-year change in the service economy

Services Directive and beyond with Copenhagen Economics


Business Panel - Tough talk on the market realities

Removing barriers to provision of services in the EU, services and digitalisation, services and greening the economy

Followed by Q&A


Coffee break


Policy panel - Overcoming a political impasse: tough talk on the way forward

From negotiations on the Services Directive to failures on the 2017 Services Package and a recipe for the policy consensus in the coming 5 years

Followed by Q&A


Flash summary: Any way forward?

17.50-18.30 Cool-off drinks and networking

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Last updated: 11 March 2020