Government – guidance

EU Services Directive

Introduction to legislation, regulations, screening, consultations and licence applications related to the EU Services Directive.

Overview

EU Member states were required to implement the Directive by 28 December 2009. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) leads on implementation in the UK and has worked closely with other government departments, the devolved administrations, local authorities, regulators and others in tasks such as screening legislation for compliance with the Directive. We have also worked to establish an online ‘Point of Single Contact’ for service providers to find out about doing business in the UK and apply for licences online.

EU Service Directive Final Text 27 December 2006

Businesses - licence applications

Businesses can apply online for licences needed in other EU countries through their Points of Single Contact.

Licences may also be found on GOV.UK Licence finder.

Businesses from outside of the UK can access online licence applications and information about doing business in the UK at UK Welcomes.

The European Commission has produced a video that highlights the benefits of the Point of Single Contact:

Points of Single Contact - Services Directive

See also the Guidance for Businesses on the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, which provides more detail of the benefits and obligations of the Services Directive.

Consumers

The European Consumer Centre for Services is a portal with information about your rights when buying services in other EEA countries. It’s a new free website and telephone service for consumers that provides general information on consumer laws and rights when buying a service in other European countries.

Services that UK consumers can get advice on include tourism services such as hotels, timeshares and car hire; construction services such as architects, builders, electricians and plumbers; estate agents and letting agents; private education providers such as language schools; and accountancy services and lawyers.

The website also has contact details of organisations that could provide practical assistance in the case of dispute.

Other government departments, devolved administrations and competent authorities

We have published practical guidance on how to remain compliant with the continuing obligations of the Services Directive:

What to do if your work affects service businesses: guidance for departments and competent authorities on the Provision of Service Regulations 2009

The Directive was brought into UK law by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, which came into effect on 28 December 2009. The Regulations affect a very wide range of service businesses. This guidance is aimed at those bodies who set rules or requirements which service providers have to comply with, and those who are involved in authorising service providers (ie ‘competent authorities’).

These bodies include government departments, devolved administrations, local authorities, licensing and authorisation bodies and other authorities such as professional bodies or bodies who maintain required registers or deliver required training qualifications. The guidance contains user friendly flowcharts which will guide you through the steps that you need to take, and point you to the sections of the guidance that you will need to look at.

Services Directive legislation

Business Guidance on the Regulations

Detailed guidance for businesses on the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 can be found below. Since the Regulations have now been made, this guidance is final:

Guidance for business on the Provision of Services Regulations

The following documents provide a summary of the implications of the Services Directive for business:

Provision of Services Regulations

The Provision of Services Regulations 2009 were made on 11 November 2009. They are the main Statutory Instrument which will implement the EU Services Directive into UK law.

In May 2009, we asked for comments on the draft Regulations. The government’s response to these comments can be found below, along with the draft statutory instrument and transposition note:

The Regulations are due to come into force on 28 December 2009. As a general principle, the Regulations do no more than transpose the Directive. Where this is not the case, this is highlighted in the Transposition Note.

Economic Rationale

An economic rationale and cost benefit analysis for implementing the Services Directive, can be found in the impact assessment below:

Services Directive: impact assessment

Consultation

The government ran a formal public consultation on its plans for implementing the Services Directive in 2007/08 and published its official response to that consultation in June 2008.

And in 2004, before the Directive was agreed at EU level, the government also ran EU Directive Services in Internal Market Consultation.

Information for competent authorities

We have published practical guidance on how to remain compliant with the continuing obligations of the Services Directive:

What to do if your work affects service businesses: guidance for departments and competent authorities on the Provision of Service Regulations 2009

Further information on the Services Directive’s requirements on competent authorities:

The European Services Directive: guidance for competent authorities

Screening flowcharts for competent authorities

This document will help guide you through the steps involved in reviewing (or ‘screening’) any requirements that you impose on service providers for compliance with the Directive. Before attempting to use the flowcharts yourself it is advisable that you:

  • have read the following information
  • have access to ‘Documents to help competent authorities screen’ (see below)

Screening

The Directive aims to make it easier for businesses to provide services in all member States (EU countries). One way of doing this is by the removal of unjustifiable barriers to service provision. All requirements (for example authorisation schemes and registration processes) which are imposed on service providers must be screened to ensure that they are for example non-discriminatory, necessary and proportionate. Any requirements that cannot be justified under the terms of the Directive will need to be amended or abolished in order to be compliant with the Directive. Any requirements that can be justified under the terms of the Directive must be reported on by BIS to the EU Commission by the 28 December 2009.

Document 2 below will show you whether legislation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has been screened and justified under the terms of the Directive or will be amended to comply with the Directive. Later in the year we will update the website with those authorisation schemes, authorisation scheme procedures or other requirements that government views are not justified together with the amendments that are being made as a result to legislation. Please look out for this information, so that you are aware of how you may have to change your processes – we shall ensure that your Primary Liaison Point (PLP) is kept informed.

Action for competent authorities

You now need to check if your procedural rules or other requirements placed on service providers within scope comply with the Directive. The following flowcharts are designed to assist you with this process.

The first flowchart is for the screening of authorisation schemes that are imposed on service providers who want to establish in the UK. The second flowchart is for the screening of other requirements that are imposed on service providers operating in the UK, whether they are established here or are operating here without being established.

Screening considerations

Many competent authorities will have responsibility for overseeing authorisation schemes or enforcing requirements which have been implemented in national legislation. Where this is the case, competent authorities should look for the relevant legislation in Document 2 - it should already have been screened and a decision made by the responsible department as to whether it is justified or if amendments are needed.

If you have responsibility for imposing your own requirements and authorisation schemes, or the relevant legislation is not shown on our list, then you will have to screen your requirements as explained in the flowcharts.

Some different considerations pertain to requirements applying to service providers seeking to establish in the UK, as opposed to those who want to provide services in the UK but do not want to establish in the UK. You should refer to the Services Directive Regulations, in particular regulations 14.1 to 14.2, 22.1 to 22.3 and 24.1 to 24.3, in order to ascertain the requirements applicable to each element of an authorisation scheme or other requirement.

One point to note is that the test for necessity is narrower in relation to service providers who are not seeking to establish in the UK. For such service providers, a ‘necessary’ requirement can only be justified on one or more of four specified grounds: public policy, public security, public health or protection of the environment. The specific meanings of these terms have been established by European case law; refer also to Recital 41 of the Directive. However, where a service provider intends to establish in the UK a ‘necessary’ requirement may be justified on wider grounds, by an ‘overriding reason relating to the public interest (ORRPI). This term is defined in Article 4(8) and explained fully in Recital 40 of EU Service Directive Final Text 27 December 2006.

Please note that regulation 24 is not applicable to professional bodies already complying with the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive. If you fall into this category and your rules already comply with the MRPQ Directive, then you do not have to check whether they comply with regulation 24 and whether they can be imposed on service providers not seeking to establish in the UK. Other derogations to regulation 24 exist – please see regulation 25 for a full list.

Competent authority flowchart report

Reporting to the European Commission

BIS needs you to complete a reporting form only for those requirements that we need to report on to the EU Commission. From the reporting form BIS will be able to see how you plan to comply with the Directive and prepare a report on the requirement for the Commission.

Documents to help competent authorities screen

It is advisable that you have access to the following documents before attempting to use the flowcharts:

1. The Services Directive draft regulations

Draft regulations - if the numbering of these regulations changes, we will let you know.

2. Primary Legislation checklist

Please find copies of the lists of primary legislation which government departments have been reviewing to check for compliance with the Services Directive. The tables list the Acts that have been or are being ‘screened’, indicating the lead government departments and the results of the screening exercise, which are shown as one of the following:

  • in scope, but the government views that the requirements imposed cannot be justified under the terms of the Directive and as such changes are needed so that the Act complies with the Directive (highlighted in aqua)
  • in scope, but the government views that the requirements imposed can be justified under the terms of the Directive and as such a report is being prepared for the Commission explaining the rationale for keeping the Act (highlighted in yellow)
  • not in scope of the Directive and raises no requirements under the Directive (highlighted in grey)
  • act has been repealed (highlighted in grey)
  • still under consideration by a Government Department (not highlighted)

In the Legislation list for England and Wales only: Act has been Devolved to National bodies (highlighted in grey) .

For an Act still under consideration by a government department, the result of the screening exercise will be recorded in the table once it is known.

3. Guidance for competent authorities

The European Services Directive: guidance for competent authorities

The ‘Scope’ and ‘Screening’ sections may help you when using the flowcharts.

5. Services Directive

EU Service Directive Final Text 27 December 2006.

Information for government departments

What to do if your work affects service businesses

We have published practical guidance on how to remain compliant with the continuing obligations of the Services Directive:

What to do if your work affects service businesses: guidance for departments and competent authorities on the Provision of Service Regulations 2009

The Directive was brought into UK law by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, which came into effect on the 28 December 2009. The Regulations affect a very wide range of service businesses. This guidance is aimed at those bodies who set rules or requirements which service providers have to comply with, and those who are involved in authorising service providers (ie ‘competent authorities’). These bodies include government departments, devolved administrations, local authorities, licensing and authorisation bodies and other authorities such as professional bodies or bodies who maintain required registers or deliver required training qualifications. The guidance contains user friendly flowcharts which will guide you through the steps that you need to take, and point you to the sections of the guidance that you will need to look at.

Screening flowcharts for government departments

BIS has been working with government departments and devolved administrations to ensure that national legislation is compliant with the Services Directive. The reviewing (or ‘screening’) of requirements that are derived from national legislation and imposed on service providers is now complete. Any requirements to be amended to comply with the Directive or justified under the terms of the Directive were reported by BIS to the EU Commission in December 2009.

However, screening will continue after this date for any proposed requirements, new requirements or changes in requirements affecting the access to, or the exercise of, a service activity. Such requirements will be reported on by BIS to the Commission as they arise.

This document provides updated guidance to help you through the steps involved in screening any (current or future) requirements that you impose on service providers for compliance with the Directive. Before attempting to use the flowcharts yourself it is advisable that you:

  • have read the following information
  • have access to the ‘Documents to help Departments screen’ (see below)
  • have read through the worked examples

Background to screening

The Directive aims to make it easier for businesses to provide services in all member states (EU countries). One way of doing this is by the removal of unjustifiable barriers to service provision. All requirements (for example authorisation schemes, licence applications, certification, registration processes, approval systems and continuing requirements) that are imposed on service providers must be screened to ensure that they are for example non-discriminatory, necessary and proportionate. Any requirements that cannot be justified under the terms of the Directive will need to be amended or abolished in order to be compliant with the Directive.

Document 3 below will show you whether legislation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has been screened and justified under the terms of the Directive or will be amended to comply with the Directive.

Action for Departments

Screening

The flowcharts together with the worked examples are designed to assist you in checking if your requirements (existing, new or amended requirements) placed on service providers within scope comply with the Directive.

The first flowchart is for the screening of authorisation schemes that are imposed on service providers who want to establish in the UK. The second flowchart is for the screening of other requirements that are imposed on service providers operating in the UK, whether they are established here or are operating here without being established.

Screening considerations

Some different considerations pertain to requirements applying to service providers seeking to establish in the UK, as opposed to those who want to provide services in the UK but do not want to establish in the UK. You should refer to the Provision of Services Regulations (which implement the Directive, see below) , in particular regulations 14.1 to 14.2, 22.1 to 22.3 and 24.1 to 24.3, in order to ascertain the requirements applicable to each element of an authorisation scheme or other requirement. One point to note is that the test for necessity is narrower in relation to service providers who are not seeking to establish in the UK. For such service providers, a ‘necessary’ requirement can only be justified on one or more of four specified grounds: a fundamental threat to public policy, public security, public health or protection of the environment. The specific meanings of these terms have been established by European case law; refer also to Recital 41 of the Directive (see link below). However, where a service provider intends to establish in the UK a ‘necessary’ requirement may be justified on wider grounds, by an ‘overriding reason relating to the public interest’ (ORRPI). This term is defined in Article 4(8) and explained fully in Recital 40 of the Directive (see link below).

Checking old requirements (those in force before 28 December 2009)

All legislation which affects service providers should have been checked for compatibility with the Directive, so you may find that the legislation you enforce has already been screened by a government department. Legislation made before 28 December 2009 should feature on the list of screened legislation list.

Checking new requirements (those in force after 28 December 2009)

Government departments, devolved administrations, local authorities and other competent authorities must ensure that all new requirements (in force after December 28th 2009) imposed on service providers in the UK are compliant with the Services Regulations

Reporting requirements

In August 2013, the Services Directive Notification procedure became part of the Internal Market information System (IMI). If you need to make any notifications under the Services Directive, you should submit them through IMI and not via e-mail using forms A and B as before. For more details on this issue, see the IMI page under ‘Further Information’.

Documents to help departments screen

It is advisable that you have access to the following documents before attempting to use the flowcharts:

1. The Provision of Services Regulations 2009

Please look at the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 transposition note, which presents in tabular form how the main Articles in the Directive have been implemented into the regulations.

2. Services Directive

Text of the Services Directive

3. Primary Legislation checklists

See below.

Information for local authorities

We have published practical guidance on how to remain compliant with the continuing obligations of the Services Directive:

Screening Flowcharts for local authorities

This guidance will help you through the steps involved in reviewing (or ‘screening’) any requirements that you impose on service providers for compliance with the Directive. Before attempting to use the flowcharts yourself it is advisable that you:

  • have read the following information
  • have access to the ‘Documents to help local authorities’ (see below)
  • have read through the worked examples

Screening

The Directive aims to make it easier for businesses to provide services in all member states (EU countries). One way of doing this is by the removal of unjustifiable barriers to service provision. All requirements (for example authorisation schemes and registration processes) which are imposed on service providers must be screened to ensure that they are for example non-discriminatory, necessary and proportionate. Any requirements that cannot be justified under the terms of the Directive will need to be amended or abolished in order to be compliant with the Directive.

Action for local authorities

BIS has been working with government departments and devolved administrations to ensure that National legislation is compliant with the Directive. Document 2 below is a list of authorisations within scope of the Directive, which BIS believes are managed by local authorities. Document 3 will show you whether central government has justified the relevant legislation in England, or plans to amend it. When the outcome of the screening processes in the devolved administrations is available we will let you know by updating the Services Directive website and notifying your PLP. Later in the year we will also update the website with those authorisation schemes, authorisation scheme procedures or other requirements that the government views are not justified together with the amendments that are being made as a result to National legislation. Please look out for this information, so that you are aware of how you may have to change your processes – again, we shall ensure that your PLP is kept informed.

Screening at a local level

You now need to check if your locally used Acts, bylaws, procedural rules or other requirements placed on service providers within scope comply with the Directive. The following flowcharts together with the worked examples are designed to assist local authorities with this process:

The first flowchart is for the screening of authorisation schemes that are imposed on service providers established in another member State who want to establish in the UK. The second flowchart is for the screening of other requirements that are imposed on service providers operating in the UK, whether they are established here or are operating here without being established. You may find it beneficial to work with neighbouring councilswho have the same service provider requirements when using the flowcharts.

Where you have discretion under National legislation to impose requirements, for example, the treatment of certain fees or authorisation of certain establishments, BIS is discussing with LACORS whether we can jointly facilitate a small number of lead or champion Local Authority groups who would consider key common issues and then disseminate guidance to other local authorities. We will tell you shortly whether this will be the case.

Screening considerations

Some different considerations pertain to requirements applying to service providers seeking to establish in the UK, as opposed to those who want to provide services in the UK but do not want to establish in the UK. You should refer to the Services Directive Regulations, in particular regulations 14.1 to 14.2, 22.1 to 22.3 and 24.1 to 24.3, in order to ascertain the requirements applicable to each element of an authorisation scheme or other requirement. One point to note is that the test for necessity is narrower in relation to service providers who are not seeking to establish in the UK. For such service providers, a ‘necessary’ requirement can only be justified on one or more of four specified grounds: public policy, public security, public health or protection of the environment. The specific meanings of these terms have been established by European case law; refer also to Recital 41 of the Directive (see link below). However, where a service provider intends to establish in the UK a ‘necessary’ requirement may be justified on wider grounds, by an ‘overriding reason relating to the public interest (ORRPI). This term is defined in Article 4(8) and explained fully in Recital 40 of the Directive (see link below).

The choices for online transactions

A requirement of the Services Directive is that service providers can apply online for licences, permits and so forth that are in the scope of the Directive.

BIS will let local authorities and other competent authorities meet this requirement in one of two ways.

If an authority offers its own online application process, the Point of Single Contact (PSC) will link to that online service.

In all other cases, BIS will supply an online application service as part of the PSC.

An authority can offer a mix of its own online applications and BIS’s services for different procedures and change the mix over time, although for any one procedure it can only offer one or the other.

Full guidance on online transactions

List of formalities within scope of the Services Directive

These are lists of formalities (authorisations/ licences/ certificates/ registrations) in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland that are in scope of the Directive and BIS believes are managed by local authorities.

Primary legislation checklists

These documents list primary legislation which Government Departments have reviewed to check for compliance with the Services Directive. The tables list the Acts that have been ‘screened’, indicating the lead Government departments and the results of the screening exercise, which are shown as one of the following:

  • in scope, but the government views that the requirements imposed cannot be justified under the terms of the Directive and as such changes have been made so that the Act complies with the Directive (highlighted in aqua)
  • in scope, but the government views that the requirements imposed can be justified under the terms of the Directive and as such a report has been prepared for the Commission explaining the rationale for keeping the Act (highlighted in yellow)
  • not in scope of the Directive and raises no requirements under the Directive (highlighted in grey) Act has been repealed (highlighted in grey)
  • under consideration by a government department (not highlighted)

In the Legislation list for the UK only:

  • Act has been Devolved to National bodies (highlighted in grey)

Legislation England and Wales(PDF, 610 Kb)

Please note that the legislation on this list applies either solely to England, or to England and Wales and/or Northern Ireland and/or Scotland. Legislation that applies solely to Scotland and Northern Ireland can be found on separate legislation lists (‘legislation list for Scotland’ and ‘legislation list for Northern Ireland’).

Please note that the legislation in this list applies solely to Northern Ireland. For legislation that applies to the whole of the UK please see the ‘Legislation list for the UK’.

Please note that the legislation in this list applies solely to Scotland. For legislation that applies to the whole of the UK please see the ‘Legislation list for the UK’.

These lists are subject to updates. Should you have any queries about the screening exercise or the legislation listed then please contact the Services Directive team on servicesdirective@bis.gsi.gov.uk.

Please note that these lists are not lists of legislation that have been amended. The table below lists details of existing national legislation and administrative practices that have been (or, exceptionally, will be) changed because of the Provision of Service Regulations 2009 or the Services Directive:

The Government continues to check that existing national legislation and administrative practices are compliant with the Directive.

Internal Market Information (IMI) System

The Internal Market Information (IMI) system aims to make it easier for authorities to contact each other across the EU.

Contact

If you require further information or would like to receive regular updates, give feedback, ask questions or share views on the Services Directive, please email us at: servicesdirective@bis.gsi.gov.uk