A competitive services market is essential in order to promote economic growth and create jobs in the European Union. Numerous barriers within the internal market prevent providers, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), from extending their operations beyond their national borders and from taking full advantage of the internal market. This weakens the worldwide competitiveness of service providers in the European Union. Services constitute the engine of economic growth and account for 70 % of GDP and employment in most Member States.
The Directive on 'services in the internal market' was part of a sustainable economic reform programme which aimed to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.
On 12 December 2006, Parliament and the Council agreed on Directive 2006/123/EC (SIM-001). This Directive establishes a general legal framework which benefits a wide variety of services while taking into account the distinctive features of each type of activity or profession and its system of regulation.
Provisions of this Directive concerning freedom of establishment and the free movement of services should only apply to activities open to competition, so that they do not oblige Member States either to liberalise services of general economic interest, to privatise public entities or to abolish existing monopolies for other activities or certain distribution services.
The Directive proposal initially attracted considerable attention from the port sector as it was not yet known if any specific service sector would be excluded from the Directive. It turned out that the port sector would not fall within the scope of the Directive, as stated in article 2 section 2 point d: 'This Directive does not apply to (...) services in the field of transport, including port services, falling within the scope of title V of the Treaty'.
Some relevant documents:
SIM-001: Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market (European Commission and The Council).