Services Directive

New needs, new services and a European Directive that protects your rights.

When you shop in the supermarket, purchase a product on Internet, go to the hairdresser, sign a contract with a company to build or renovate your house, make a holiday reservation, contract a lawyer or many other situations, you are using services. Nevertheless, at present, offering or purchasing services in other countries of the European Union may still pose problems for both consumers and companies.

There are often legal or administrative barriers which dissuade the companies or complicate proceedings. Consequently, companies decide not to sell services to consumers from other countries or they raise the prices, preventing consumers from fully benefiting from all the opportunities offered by the interior market of the Union.

In addition, many consumers are not adequately informed about businesses in other countries and may be reluctant to use their services or may encounter difficulties when they try to use them.

For these reasons, the EU adopted the Services Directive in order to guarantee that consumers and businesses enjoy the benefits of the interior market, by being able to offer and purchase services easily.

But do not forget that some services are not included in the Services Directive, for example financial, health and transport services or gambling activities such as the lottery and betting.

  • Distribution of goods and services in online and offline sales. For example, electronic appliances, books, DIY products or music downloads.
  • Tourist services such as though provided by travel agencies.
  • Leisure and free-time services such as those supplied by sports centres and amusement parks.
  • Rental and leasing services such as car rentals.
  • Hotel and catering services such those supplied by hotels, restaurants or catering services.
  • Construction and craft work.
  • The majority of regulated activities including legal or tax advisers, architects, engineers, accountants or quantity surveyors.
  • Business services including maintenance services, business management consultants, organisation of events, advertising services or human resources.
  • Installation and maintenance of equipment.
  • Information Society Services including the press, publication of Web pages, news agencies or computer programming.
  • Training and education services.
  • Property market.
  • Maintenance services: Cleaning, gardening and private domestic services.


  • Non-economic services of general interest (For example, postal services, electricity, gas, water supply and distribution or waste management services).
  • Financial Services.
  • Electronic communication networks and services.
  • Transport and Port services.
  • Health services, regardless of whether they are public or private.
  • Temporary work agency services.
  • Private security services.
  • Audiovisual services.
  • Gambling activities which involve wagering a stake with pecuniary value in games of chance.
  • Social services.
  • Services provided by notaries and judicial agents.
  • Activities connected to the exercise of official authority.


European legislation:

  • Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal Market.