Services e-card

In “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age”

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This carriage deals with two files, the regulation and the directive on services e-card.

In the framework of the Single Market Strategy, the European Commission launched a legislative initiative introducing a 'services passport' aiming to enhance cooperation between home and host Member States and help service-providers operating across borders.

In its resolution of 25 February 2016 (rapporteur: Catherine Stihler, S&D, UK), the European Parliament welcomed the Commission’s plans to consider an initiative for a services passport and for a harmonised notification form; emphasised that any such initiative should not lead to the introduction of the country of origin principle and considered the services passport to be a temporary solution intended for use during the process of transition towards a fully integrated single market.

Following a 2016 consultation of stakeholders, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation introducing a European services e-card and related administrative facilities on 10 January 2017.

The European services e-card aimed to reduce administrative complexity for service providers that want to expand their activities to other Member States. Simultaneously, it would ensure that Member States can apply justified regulation. The services e-card would be offered to service providers on a voluntary basis in order to show compliance with the applicable national rules. It would allow service providers to use a fully-electronic EU-level procedure to complete formalities when expanding abroad, and would offer them increased legal certainty and significantly reduced administrative complexity. Through the e-card service providers would be able to avoid administrative obstacles such as uncertainty as to which requirements apply, filling-in disparate forms in foreign languages, translating, certifying or authenticating documents and non-electronic procedural steps. Cost savings related to the formalities covered by the e-card procedure would be significant compared to the existing situation.

The e-card would be issued by the home Member State of the service provider. The host Member States would be able to object to issuance of the e-card in cases where the Services Directive already allows them to do so under one of the overriding reasons of public interest (included in Article 16 of the Service Directive).

Once issued, the e-card would allow the service provider to provide services on a temporary cross-border basis in the host Member State. The European services e-card would apply – in a first stage – to business services and construction services – to the extent the related activities fall already under the Services Directive.

The Commission presented the proposal in the Council on 13 January 2017. It has been discussed by the Council preparatory bodies several times.

In the European Parliament, the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) presented its draft report on 27 October 2017 (rapporteur: Anneleen Van Bossuyt, ECR, Belgium). The report focuses on political issues: the services e-card should be of absolute voluntary nature; the decision to suspend or revoke a card should be proportionate; Member States can carry out all controls and verifications laid down by national law in accordance with the Services Directive; existing databases covering the sectors falling within the scope of this Directive should continue to exist in the form they do today. Furthermore, it is important to enable interoperability between the electronic platform connected to IMI and the existing electronic procedures, platforms and registers in Member States. The report was voted in the Committee on 21 March 2018.

Two national parliaments issued reasoned opinions: the German Bundestag and the Austrian Federal Council, both expressing subsidiarity and proportionality concerns.

The European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion on the whole services package on 31 Mai 2017. A section of this opinion referred to the services e-card. The Committee of the Regions also adopted an opinion on the whole services package on 11 October 2017.

On the Plenary session of 21 October 2019, the file was classified as a file which the Parliament should request the Commission to withdraw.

On its Plenary session on 1 July 2020 the Committee of the Regions adopted an opinion on "The services package: An updated view from Europe's local and regional authorities". In this opinion the CoR pointed out that without the implementation of a services e-card, cross-border service providers still face the same costs in fulfilling administrative formalities, and that the services e-card was supposed to reduce these by half, which would have been of major benefit to SMEs. Therefore, the CoR recalled the need to take important steps in administrative simplification for service providers; pointed out, however, that the legislative, technical and administrative burden for local and regional authorities must be proportionate to the expected benefits. The CoR urged the other institutions to find common ground for the issues that the legislative proposal for the e-card is intended to tackle, in order to allow a better implementation on the grounds of the Services Directive.

In its Work Programme for 2021, the European Commission announced the withdrawal of the regulation and the directive on services e-card (see Annex IV: Withdrawals), as no agreement was foreseeable, no progress has been made by the co-legislators since 2018 and further progress was unlikely. The proposal was withdrawn on 23 April 2021. 



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Author: Marketa Pape, Members' Research Service,

As of 20/06/2024.