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Procedure : 2012/2144(INI)
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Document selected : A7-0273/2013

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Debates :

PV 10/09/2013 - 23
CRE 10/09/2013 - 23

Votes :

PV 11/09/2013 - 5.18
CRE 11/09/2013 - 5.18
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Explanations of votes

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Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - Strasbourg
Internal market for services

European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2013 on the Internal Market for Services: State of Play and Next Steps (2012/2144(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 9, 49 and 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘The implementation of the Services Directive – A partnership for new growth in services 2012-2015’ (COM(2012)0261) and the accompanying Commission staff working documents,

–  having regard to the Commission study entitled ‘The economic impact of the Services Directive: A first assessment following implementation’ (Economic Papers No 456),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Towards a better functioning Single Market for services – building on the results of the mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive’ (COM(2011)0020) and the accompanying Commission staff working document entitled on the process of mutual evaluation of the Services Directive (SEC(2011)0102),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Single Market Act II – Together for new growth’ (COM(2012)0573),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Better Governance for the Single Market’ (COM(2012)0259),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Single Market Act – Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence’ (COM(2011)0206),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Towards a Single Market Act’ (COM(2010)0608),

–  having regard to the European Council Conclusions of 14-15 March 2013 on the contribution of European policies to growth and employment,

–  having regard to the European Council Conclusions of 28-29 June 2012 on a Compact for Growth and Jobs,

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 10 March 2011 on a better functioning Single Market for services – mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive,

–  having regard to Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 February 2013 with recommendations to the Commission on the governance of the Single Market(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2012 on the 20 main concerns of European citizens and business with the functioning of the Single Market(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on the mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 April 2011 on governance and partnership in the Single Market(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2011 on a more efficient and fairer retail market(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 February 2011 on implementation of the Services Directive 2006/123/EC(7),

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A7-0273/2013),

A.  whereas our single market is a cornerstone of the European construction and its good functioning is essential for the proper implementation of EU policies and is a basis for recovery;

B.  whereas the services sector accounts for more than 65 % of EU GDP and total employment and is a pillar of our economy; whereas services covered by the Services Directive amount to 45 % of EU GDP;

C.  whereas the full implementation of the Directive will greatly improve the functioning of the single market in services, in particular by facilitating the market access of SMEs and the self-employed, expanding consumer choice and helping to strengthen competitiveness in the EU, growth and employment;

D.  whereas a functional, efficient and more competitive services market is necessary for European industry, European enterprises (especially SMEs) and consumers;

E.  whereas the Services Directive has brought concrete benefits since its adoption in 2006, facilitating market access for both business and consumers, but has not yet yielded all expected results, due to shortcomings in its implementation;

F.  whereas fragmented interpretation and inadequate implementation of the directive are still hampering free movement of services across borders;

G.  whereas businesses, in particular SMEs, are still having to comply with an extensive range of administrative and bureaucratic requirements which are a heavy burden for them, particularly when taken together with the difficulties they face in gaining access to credit;

H.  whereas the risk of Services Directive fatigue should not cause us to relax our efforts to realise the directive’s full potential;

I.  whereas the time has come to act, given that, with rising unemployment and deteriorating public finances, the services sector is more than ever a source of competitiveness, growth and jobs that cannot be neglected;

Services’ untapped potential for growth and jobs

1.  Highlights that unnecessary and disproportionate administrative burden, discriminatory practices and unjustified restrictions to service provision across the EU are blocking significant sources of growth, hampering the creation of jobs and causing businesses to miss opportunities;

2.  Emphasises that if Member States were ready to implement the Services Directive properly and fully, and remove unjustified restrictions, the Commission’s ambitious estimate is that the EU could make an economic gain of up to 2,6 % of GDP in 5-10 years;

3.  Notes that the Commission should focus its efforts on those service sectors that are of great economic importance and have above-average growth potential, such as business services, construction services, tourism services and retail, so as to produce tangible results in the short term for growth and jobs;

4.  Stresses that effective enforcement of existing rules is a smart and fast way of contributing to growth without public spending; underlines the urgent need to make the directive work in practice with a view to releasing its untapped potential and contributing to Europe’s model of a balanced and sustainable social market economy;

5.  Stresses the importance of developing better indicators of Single Market performance based on real experiences and expectations of businesses and consumers to enhance functionality and their knowledge of the various rights that can be invoked to ensure access to the Single Market for Services;

6.  Welcomes the development of the Digital Single Market and new forms of services such as digital and mobile services and mixed goods/services packages; underlines the need to implement the directive to its full extent, in letter and spirit, and in a future-proof manner in order to encourage innovation;

7.  Encourages also the gradual opening-up of the internal market for services in the welfare sector, while respecting the provisions of the Services Directive;

8.  Recalls that the Services Directive does not force the liberalisation of services, but paves the way for both business and consumers to grasp the full potential of our single market in the context of a competitive social market economy;

9.  Welcomes the Commission Communication on the implementation of the Services Directive entitled ‘A partnership for new growth in services 2012-2015’ (COM(2012)0261), which responds to the reporting obligation as set out in Article 41 of the directive; reiterates the need to take account of the medium- and long-term effects of the Services Directive on employment in the EU;

Barriers, borders and burdens to free movement

10.  Regrets that there is a significant number of identified cases where Member States are inappropriately invoking overriding reasons of public interest (Article15 of the Services Directive) for the sole purpose of protecting and favouring their domestic market; considers that the use of overriding reasons of public interest should always be objectively justified and strictly proportionate to the objective pursued, consistent with European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law; highlights the fact that burdensome legal-form and shareholder requirements, territorial restrictions, economic needs tests and fixed tariffs create unjustified obstacles to efficient cross-border establishment and damage the internal market for services;

11.  Regrets that the proportionality assessment is rarely made; asks the Commission to clarify the concept of proportionality and issue practical guidance to the Member States on how to apply it, building on existing ECJ case law;

12.  Urges Member States to apply effectively and fully the freedom to provide services clause (Article16 of the Services Directive) and to remove double regulatory burdens;

13.  Points out that, for activities where the number of authorisations available may be limited because of scarcity of natural resources or technical capacity, the Services Directive states the need to enable the provider to recoup the cost of investment and to make a fair return on the capital invested, without restricting or distorting free competition;

14.  Is concerned at the growing number of discrimination cases reported by consumers; urges Member States to enforce correctly and fully Article 20(2) of the Services Directive and calls on businesses to refrain from unjustified discriminatory practices on grounds of nationality or place of residence; highlights, however, that any obligation to sell is against the fundamental principle of freedom of contract; welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s ongoing work on a guidance report on non-discrimination, striking the right balance for the benefit of consumers and businesses; welcomes also the role of European Consumer Centres in identifying and solving the irregularities observed;

Smart governance of the internal market for services

15.  Underlines that the smooth functioning of the internal market for services requires interplay with sector-specific rules that may require extra authorisations, leading to cumulative costs especially for businesses; highlights that it also depends on the implementation of other EU legislative acts; calls, therefore, on Member States to take an integrated approach to the internal market for services in order to ensure legal certainty for consumers and business, in particular SMEs;

16.  Calls on the Commission to ensure consistency between the peer review under the Services Directive and the mutual evaluation under the Professional Qualifications Directive; stresses that a careful case-by-case assessment should be made, including of the justifications put forward by Member States on why certain requirements are maintained, in order to identify specific areas where Member States are disproportionately regulating the exercise of a profession or blocking access to certain professions; urges Member States to remove such unjustified requirements;

17.  Asks the Member States to make greater use of mutual recognition to facilitate the free movement of services, wherever harmonised rules are not yet in place;

18.  Notes that the diversity of national standards is causing fragmentation and uncertainty; encourages the development of voluntary European standards for services covered by the Services Directive as a way to improve cross-border comparability and trade;

19.  Considers that the European Commission and the European standardisation organisations should work in close cooperation in order to ensure, where relevant, coherence in the terminology used so that the rules are applied consistently throughout the EU;

20.  Highlights also the fact that inadequate cross-border coverage of insurance for service providers is a major hindrance to free movement; urges stakeholders to find solutions through dialogue;

21.  Encourages broader use of the IMI-system between Member States to check compliance with the requirements of the directive, in particular in cases of the cross-border provision of services, and of European Consumer Centres as well as SOLVIT to help businesses and consumers with conflicting rules and non-compliance; underlines, to this effect, the importance of ensuring full access of associated partners to the SOLVIT network at a technical level;

22.  Notes that Single Market tools including SOLVIT should work better in terms of time taken to resolve cases; stresses the importance of improved targets and key performance indicators in this regard; welcomes the Commission’s initiative to revise SOLVIT’s legal framework;

23.  Urges Member States to upgrade to second-generation Points of Single Contact that are fully functional, multilingual and user-friendly e-government portals; stresses the importance of taking a service-provider approach covering the entire business cycle; believes that e-procedures will enhance simplification, reduce compliance costs and increase legal certainty; calls on Member States to ensure full interoperability of their PSCs and make them known across borders, informing European citizens and businesses about their rights and opportunities deriving from the Services Directive; calls, furthermore, on the Commission to set out clear benchmarking criteria for the evaluation of PSCs, including data on their usage levels, and to regularly report to Parliament on progress made;

Better enforcement for maximised economic effects

24.  Highlights the fact that, where properly enforced, the Services Directive has brought concrete results in terms of jobs and growth; supports, therefore, the exchange of best practices between Member States, including innovative solutions between competent authorities in border regions;

25.  Points out that inadequate implementation has a ‘borderless’ impact, with citizens across the EU paying the price; emphasises that all Member States have a responsibility vis-à-vis one another and the Union to enforce effectively the directive and should be confronted with their obligations on an equal footing;

26.  Calls on the Commission to assist Member States with the key problems they have identified regarding implementation and application of EU Single Market legislation, including on how to improve transposition and compliance deficits and obtaining fast and efficient judicial redress;

27.  Stresses that competent regional and local authorities must also take their shared responsibility for full and qualitative enforcement of the letter and the spirit of the directive, with the overall aim of stimulating economic activity and employment; highlights, in that respect, the importance of reducing administrative burdens;

28.  Strongly supports the Commission’s zero tolerance policy with regard to unjustified restrictions; encourages the Commission to make use of all means at its disposal to ensure full and correct implementation of existing rules, in dialogue on an equal basis with Member States; calls for fast-track infringement procedures to be applied and completed no later than 18 months, whenever incorrect or insufficient implementation or breaches of the directive by Member States are identified;

29.  Calls on the Commission to use the ‘Single Market Month’ as an opportunity to showcase the benefits of the Single Market for services to businesses;

Strengthening transparency and accountability

30.  Asks the Commission, on the basis of the outcome of the peer reviews, to list the most burdensome restrictions, propose targeted reforms and keep the Council and Parliament informed;

31.  Encourages the Commission to pay particular attention to the services sector in Annual Growth Surveys and State of Single Market Integration Reports, and to include services in the country-specific recommendations; considers that the Commission and the Council, via these detailed country-specific recommendations, should continue to encourage Member States to adopt and implement long-term growth policies;

32.  Calls on the national parliaments to engage actively in supporting the enforcement of the directive and use their powers of scrutiny vis-à-vis national authorities at all levels;

33.  Urges stakeholders, the business community and social partners to play their part in holding governments to account for revitalising the European services sector and creating stable jobs;

34.  Asks the Council and its Presidency to place the internal market for services on the agenda for Competitiveness Council meetings on a regular basis; suggests reintroducing the Commission’s ‘compliance reports’ as a means of measuring the progress made in facilitating market access;

35.  Urges the members of the European Council to take full political responsibility for a well functioning internal market for services; invites the President of the European Council to keep this topic on the European Council’s agenda for as long as is necessary, with a commonly agreed roadmap, including specific benchmarks and a timetable for Member States to give a fresh impetus and remove remaining obstacles to the full enforcement of the Services Directive;

o   o

36.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, and the parliaments and governments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.
(2) Text adopted, P7_TA(2013)0054.
(3) Text adopted, P7_TA(2012)0395.
(4) OJ C 131 E, 8.5.2013, p. 46.
(5) OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 51.
(6) OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 9.
(7) OJ C 188 E, 28.6.2012, p. 1.

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