We live in ONE European Single Market where - in theory - all goods, capital, persons aaand services are able to move freely throughout the entire EU. However, the reality is that service providers who want to do business in another Member State are faced with complex formalities and paperwork (in foreign languages). The Commission wants to tackle this issue and came up with the Services e-card: A new, simple and fully electronic procedure for self-employed people and companies who provide construction or business services (such as accounting, tax advice, architecture, engineering, IT).
If you are an indepdendent service provider or running an IT, construction, accounting (you name it) company and want to do business abroad: The Commission promises that your life will get easier and you will have to deal with less paperwork!
If you are a consumer: Supposedly, you will have more companies to choose from because it will get easier for them to actually offer their services abroad. However, trade unions and social partners in the construction sector are sceptical of the proposal and are afraid the e-card will allow for more social dumping and fraud.
To give you a better idea of how this Commission proposal could actually make life easier for those wanting to go cross-border with their services - here is a little real-life example: Today a construction company wanting to provide services on a temporary basis in another EU country must often submit documents for every contract they want to take on. Plus, supporting documents must be translated by a certified translators, all making it quite expensive for the service provider. Plus, it could take many months to get an approval.
Doing your application through the Services e-card portal has its advantages: The application is done online. No paperwork. All in your own language. Support from your national authorities - no need to contact the authorities in the other Member State. Plus: Once you have a valid e-card, it is valid for as long as your company is doing business - no need to re-apply. And the whole process shouldn’t take longer than 3-5 weeks total. The e-card thingy is totally voluntary. So you can still submit your application old-school and in paper.
For all the nerds: The Commission's handy little factsheet and Q&A-information.
The new rules were suggested by the Commission in January 2017 and now Parliament and Council are discussing them. Within the Parliament the Employment Committee is dealing with the proposal. As always: We will keep you posted!
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