SERVICES IN THE INTERNAL MARKET
Directive 2006/123 of 12 December 2006 on services in the Internal Market
The Directive aims at facilitating the exercise of activities of services in the European Union, whether on a permanent or temporary basis.
The Directive first provides that Member States have the obligation to simplify their administrative procedures for having access to services and exercising service activities within their territory and to create points of single contact, which provide information to service providers who wish to establish themselves or provide their services within their territory.
Regarding freedom of establishment, i.e. the permanent and stable provision of services by a national of a Member State in another Member State, the host Member State can only impose an authorization scheme if it is non-discriminatory, justified by an overriding reason relating to the public interest and if its objective cannot be attained by means of a less restrictive measure.
Concerning the free provision of services, i.e. the temporary exercise of a service activity in a Member State, the host Member State must guarantee free access to and free exercise of a service activity within its territory. Member States may only impose restrictions if they are justified for reasons of public policy, public security, public health or the protection of the environment and provided that they are necessary, proportional and non-discriminatory.
On 24 September 2015, the European Commission published a public consultation on geo-blocking. This consultation aims at gathering views and opinions on the different restrictions faced by users, consumers and businesses when they access or provide information, shop or sell across the borders in the European Union.
Preventing unjustified geo-blocking has been identified by the Commission as one of its priorities in the Digital Single Market strategy released on 6 May 2015. This consultation will inform the Commission and will help in preparing proposals on geo-blocking. Actions could also include targeted changes to the e-Commerce framework and the framework set out by Article 20 of the Services Directive.
Geo-blocking can include the following practices:
- blocking any access to websites across borders ;
- allowing access to websites across borders but denying the possibility to complete the order or purchase after obtaining information on the geo-localisation of the user ;
- allowing access to websites across borders but denying the possibility to download digital products across borders ;
- allowing access to websites across borders but denying the possibility to pick up, deliver or ship the goods across borders.
- differentiating prices or other conditions on the basis of nationality, country of residence of customers or the location from which they are accessing the services.