The European Commission has taken action to enforce the EU’s rules concerning services and qualifications within the Single Market.
In a November 2018 communication on the Single Market, the Commission reminded Member States that, while the Single Market offers multiple benefits for citizens and businesses, these benefits can only be fully realised if the rules governing the Single Market are jointly and universally implemented by all participating regions. The Commission has now acted to ensure these rules are observed EU-wide, with particular focus on the field of service provision: overall, services make up around two thirds of the EU’s economy, but the sector has not yet been able to reach its full potential within the Single Market.
Yesterday the Commission issued a total of 31 letters of formal notice to Member States found to have failed to enforce Single Market rules; as well as one supplementary letter of formal notice and two reasoned opinions. The letters included:
- Letters of formal notice to 27 Member States – only Denmark was omitted – due to their legal practices’ failure to comply with EU rules regarding the recognition of professional qualifications;
- A supplementary letter of formal notice to Croatia over its restrictions on lawyers providing multidisciplinary services;
- Reasoned opinions to Ireland regarding its advertising restrictions in the services sector and Cyprus regarding its rules concerning access to activities for engineers and architects; and
- Four more letters of formal notice to Portugal, France, Poland and Belgium over breaches of the Professional Qualifications Directive, Article 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and the Services Directive, respectively.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “Today we are launching a package of infringement measures to ensure the effective and consistent enforcement of EU rules that allow professionals and businesses to provide their services around Europe. Eliminating current obstacles will boost the Single Market for services and allow it to approach its full economic potential. But more is still needed. Member States must step up their efforts to adopt the legislative proposals tabled by the Commission as part of its January 2017 Services Package.”
Member States have been given two months to respond to the Commission’s notices; after which, if they have not addressed the issued raised, the Commission will proceed with infringements procedures.