While services in Europe account for about 70% of EU GDP and some 90% of new jobs created, cross-border provision of services is still under-developed. Companies still face many obstacles when providing their services across borders and experience that a true single market for services is not a reality yet.

It is essential that services markets become more integrated and more competitive to create growth and jobs, and to be able to compete with the rest of the world. The single market for services still has an untapped potential between €337 bn to €637 bn (source: EPRS of the European Parliament, Cost of Non-Europe, 2015), and even if the range is so wide due to complexities of data collection on services, it is deemed that these figures might significantly underestimate the overall potential gains of a fully-fledged single market for services.

Despite the progress made with the 2006 services directive, many barriers remain due to its diverse interpretation and application on the ground. There is a need for much better implementation of the directive by member states and enforcement measures where non-compliance with its provisions is detected. To ensure this, transparency on requirements related to provision of services, adopted by member states at all levels, from national to local, should be ensured and dialogue with stakeholders reinforced.

Other remaining obstacles relate to uneven interpretation and application of rules on free movement of labour, such as posted workers, diverse national service standards, lack of recognition of professional qualifications, still high number of regulated professions that fragment labour markets, double insurance obligations, strains on company mobility, e-commerce barriers and complexity in tax activities. There are also regular issues to be addressed in relation to interplay with the rules on applicable law and consumer protection legislation.


Public letters Date
Services Directive: a comprehensive report on its application under Article 41 - Joint letter to Kerstin Jorna 02/02/2021
Notifications in services - Letter from Markus J. Beyrer to Thierry Breton 06/01/2020
Call for a deal on the proposal on Notifications in Services before the summer break - Letter from Markus J. Beyrer 03/05/2018
Horizontal European standards for services - Letter from Jérôme P. Chauvin to Maitane Olabarria Uzquiano, CEN-CENELEC 18/08/2014
Position papers Date
The digital services package - a BusinessEurope position paper 12/10/2020
The Platform to Business proposal - a BusinessEurope position paper 24/09/2018
Comments on the 2017 “Services Package” including the proposals for a European services e-card - a BusinessEurope position paper 27/04/2017
Comments on the European Services Card initiative - a BusinessEurope position paper 14/10/2016
BusinessEurope response to “Services Passport” public consultation 26/07/2016
Single market strategy: comments on the proposed "services passport" 06/04/2016
Geo-blocking and different treatment in the single market 18/12/2015
Press releases Date
Timely Services Package, but European Services e-Card needs work 10/01/2017
Speeches Date
Commission / EUGO workshop "Coordinated marketing initiative for Points of Single Contact (PSCs)", Vilnius - Speaking notes for Jeroen Hardenbol 09/06/2015
Business perspective on key priorities for the single market for products and services - Speech by Markus J. Beyrer at the Enterprise Policy Group (EPG) 26/11/2014


Michelle Marie Philipp

Junior Adviser
+32 2 237 65 58
Last updated: 18 February 2019