European Law Monitor

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Freedom to Provide Services

So what is a service? The general rule of thumb is it´s an economic activity that you provide on a temporary basis, for remuneration, unlike establishment which is where you are undertaking an economic activity on a permanent basis.

´Services´ includes:

(a) activities of an industrial character;

(b) activities of a commercial character;

(c) activities of craftsmen;

(d) activities of the professions.

It does not include

• Transport
• Banking
• insurance

Restrictions on freedom to provide services within the EU is prohibited in respect of nationals of Member States who are established in a different Member State to the end user of the service. The person providing a service may temporarily undertake his activity in the State where the service is provided, under the same conditions as are imposed by that State on its own nationals.

The free movement of services rules can also be extended to nationals of a non EU country who provide services and who are established
within the EU.

Although the Treaty refers to the freedom to provide services, the European Court of Justice has held that the freedom established by the Treaty includes the freedom, for the recipient of services (such as tourists, persons seeking medical treatment, people travelling for business or study purposes) to go to another Member State in order to receive the service there. So this freedom is not just the freedom to provide but also the freedom to receive services anywhere across the EU.