The EU Commission wants to make it easier for companies and self-employed persons to provide services cross-border within the European Single Market. An electronic application aims to help cut through red tape.

IW – 02/2017

The concept, which was presented on 10 January 2017 and consists of a Directive and Regulation [COM (2016) 823 and 824 final], provides for a simplified electronic procedure that, in its first stage, will apply to business services and construction services. The aim is to make it easier to fulfil the administrative formalities that are necessary to provide services in other Member States.  

Services card based on country-of-origin principle?

According to the European Commission’s proposal, applicants for a “European Services Card” will only have a contact point in their home country and in their own language. The authorities in the home country will assess the necessary information in accordance with the rules of the home country and forward this to the host Member State. Service providers who wish to do business in the host Member State will be able to submit a document issued by their home Member State with the information required to provide that service.  


However, it is up to the host Member State to make a final decision on whether to allow the applicant to provide services in its territory following an assessment of the information provided in terms of whether the regulatory requirements of the host country have been met. A rejection of an application must be justified.  

Service card and social insurance?

Indications regarding the use of the Regulation for a European services e-card and the Directive for its legal and operational framework can be found in the recitals of the legal texts. These repeatedly mention that the rules do not apply to social insurance. Services Directive 2006/123/EC also points out that social insurance will not be affected by the regulations. 


However, Article 4(1a) of the proposed Regulation and Article 6(iii) of the proposed Directive raise questions. These touch on social insurance because, according to the rules set out therein, the card is to be partly linked to social security data. A further issue is compliance with national OSH rules when issuing a card in another Member State.  

Opposition by the European social partners of the construction industry

The European social partners of the construction industry (FIEC and EFBWW) have called on the EU Commission not to use the card in the construction sector. A European services e-card is not needed in the construction industry. Moreover, the country-of-origin principle as starting point contradicts the host-country principle which is explicitly defined in Article 9.1a and Article 9.2 of Directive 2014/67/EU on the enforcement of Directive 96/71/EC regarding the posting of workers.  


The press release can be viewed here.