What does the EU Services Directive mean for my business?

If you do business in another EU member state, the EU Services Directive probably applies to you. The Directive applies to almost all service providers, from fitters and painters to window cleaners and plumbers. It enables you to deal with administrative issues in another EU member state via a Point of Single Contact (PSC). For example, you can apply for licences online. The Services Directive applies to the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

One Point of Single Contact for service providers in each EU member state

Under the Directive, each EU member state must have its own PSC. In the Netherlands, the PSC has set up Message Box, an email system for licence applications and other procedures.

All EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have Points of Single Contact. They are listed on the European Commission’s website.

Mandatory confirmation of receipt of licence applications

If a service provider applies for a licence, the authority in question (municipality, province, water authority) must confirm its receipt of the application and state when it will take a decision on it. It may extend the time limit once if necessary, for example because an application is complicated.

No news is good news

For some licences, the ‘no news is good news’ rule applies. If the authority does not take a decision on time, the applicant is automatically issued with a licence.

This is not the case, however, if automatically issuing a licence would have negative effects on public health or the environment, for instance.

More Dutch documents recognised abroad

The Services Directive provides for the mutual recognition of certificates. The holder of a Dutch hygiene certificate, for example, can open a café in Germany. The relevant authority in Germany may ask for a translation of the certificate however. It may also check that the certificate is equivalent to the relevant German document. If this not the case, it may be necessary to obtain another certificate.

Businesses must provide consumers with sufficient information

Service providers must provide consumers with information. This includes information on prices (if they have already been decided) and guarantees. They must also provide their name and address, so consumers can complain if there is a problem.

Digital signature for business representatives

Business representatives sometimes have to sign digital documents. There are several ways they can do this.