Red tape and lack of information are still hindering cross-border trade, over a year after the deadline for implementing the 2006 Services Directive, warned MEPs in a resolution passed in plenary session on Tuesday. The resolution sets out specific ways in which Member States can accelerate the directive's implementation and improve firms' access to information.

The implementation of the 2006 Services Directive, which aims to open up the single market to service providers in the EU and facilitate cross-border provision of commercial services, still has some way to go, say MEPs in a non-legislative report by Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE). The deadline for Member States to implement the directive's provisions expired at the end of 2009.

MEPs point to the need to ensure easy access to information for businesses and to step up administrative co-operation, as areas where Member States can improve the directive's implementation.

"The Services Directive is a very important piece of legislation. We, as a Parliament, therefore decided not only to make the law, but also to monitor how it is implemented by the Member States. We want to ensure that this is done correctly and efficiently", said Ms Gebhardt in a debate on Monday.

Improving Points of Single Contact for businesses

The functioning of the Points of Single Contact (PSC) set up under the directive must be improved, say MEPs. PSCs should become comprehensive e-Government portals, allowing procedures and formalities to be completed remotely, by electronic means and providing service providers with relevant information, inter alia on labour and tax law and on VAT and social security registration procedures.

All information given by the PSCs should also be available in languages other than the national language. In particular, the PSCs should take account of the languages of neighbouring countries, add MEPs.

MEPs regret that PSCs and opportunities to supply services across borders are not yet widely known to service providers. They therefore call on the Commission and Member States to launch information and training campaigns as soon as possible and to also to improve the visibility of the "eu-go" domain which brings together all PSC websites.

The resolution urges Member States to improve training of civil servants with a view to stepping up administrative co-operation and facilitating cross-border provision of services. It also underlines the beneficial impact of the Internal Market Information system (IMI), an electronic tool for cooperation between national and regional administrations.

Scope of the directive

MEPs note the discussion under way in some Member States on services specifically excluded from the scope of the directive (such as health or transport services) and suggest that these services may require a specific framework which could be included in forthcoming work on the Single Market Act.

The Gebhardt report was approved in plenary by a show of hands.