The EU Services Directive came into effect on December 28, 2009. In Finland the implementation of the Services Directive has comprised, among other things, the following:
- drafting a general law on the provision of services (entered into force on December 28, 2009)
- establishing a single point of contact for service companies on the EnterpriseFinland website (laita tästä linkki keskitettyyn asiointipalveluun)
- establishing an administrative point of contact at the Consumer Agency
The Directive requires that member states offer their citizens information on general consumer protection regulations and advise them on who to turn to for assistance. In Finland these services have been established for quite some time:
Information on consumer protection (Consumer Agency website)
Instructions for making complaints and other consumer advice (Consumer Agency website)
Information on and instructions for cross-border trade (European Consumer Centre website)
The service provider's duty to provide information is specified in Chapter 2 of the Act on the Provision of Services:
Paragraph 7: Obligation to give information
In addition to the provisions elsewhere in the law on obligations to give information, the service provider must provide the recipient of the service with the following information:
1) the service provider's name and legal form;
2) the service provider's address, e-mail address and other contact information for the recipient to use in the event of directing a complaint to the service provider or requesting information concerning the service;
3) where the provider is registered in a trade or other similar public register, the name of that register and the provider's registration number, or equivalent means of identification in that register;
4) where the activity is subject to an authorisation scheme, the particulars of the relevant competent authority;
5) the service provider's VAT identification, if the provider exercises an activity which is subject to VAT;
6) in the case of regulated professions, the service provider's occupational title and information on the EEA member state where the title was awarded and on the professional body or similar institution with which the provider is registered;
7) standard terms of contract used by the provider, if any;
8) the service provider's terms of contract concerning the court of jurisdiction and applicable law, if any;
9) the existence of an after-sales guarantee, if any, not imposed by law;
10) the price of the service, where a price is pre-determined by the provider for a given type of service;
11) the main features of the service, if not apparent from the context;
12) information on liability insurance or collateral, if any, and their geographical scope as well as the contact information for the insurer or guarantor.
Paragraph 8: Information to be provided on request
The service provider must provide the recipient with the following information on request:
1) where the price is not pre-determined by the provider for a given type of service, the price of the service or, if an exact price cannot be given, the method for calculating the price so that it can be checked by the recipient, or a sufficiently detailed estimate;
2) as regards the regulated professions, a reference to the professional rules applicable to the provider and how to access them;
3) information on their multidisciplinary activities and partnerships which are directly linked to the service in question and on the measures taken to avoid conflicts of interest;
4) any codes of conduct to which the provider is subject and the address at which these codes may be consulted by electronic means, specifying the language version available;
5) information on the recipient's recourse to a non-judicial means of dispute settlement and how to access detailed information on the characteristics of, and conditions for, the use of these.
Paragraph 9: Providing information in documents describing the service
The service provider must give the information referred to in Paragraph 8(3) in all documents describing the services in detail.
Paragraph 10: Provision of information
The service provider must make the information referred to in Paragraph 7 available to the recipient:
1) at the location where the service is offered or the contract is concluded;
2) on the Internet at the address indicated by the service provider;
3) in brochures and other documents pertaining to the services being offered; or
4) in another manner comparable to items 1-3 above.
The provider must supply the information referred to in Paragraph 1 in good time before conclusion of the contract or, where there is no written contract, before the service is provided.
The goal of the Directive is to expedite and facilitate the expansion of operations by businesses in the internal market, both in terms of establishing a company in another EU member state and engaging in business directly in another member state. Some of the key methods of achieving this are reviewing and expediting processes concerning licences and permits, increasing the supply of electronic service channels as well as collecting information for businesses to single points of contact. Co-operation between the authorities that control licences and permits will increase.
The Act applies to all service providers who are entered in the Finnish trade register. The Act also applies to service providers based in other EU member states who offer services in Finland on a temporary basis without being entered in the Finnish trade register. All service providers have a duty to provide information on themselves and the services they sell. According to the Services Directive, the Act does not apply to certain industries, such as financial services, insurance services, taxi services, healthcare services and pharmacies.
Act on the Provision of Services (Finlex, in Finnish)
Service directive enforced: services - point of single contact to open (Ministry of Employment and the Economy)
Services Directive (European Union Internet portal)