The goal of the Services 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. A further goal is promoting cross-border trade by improving the provision of information to consumers.
The Consumer Agency acts as a national liaison point of contact that coordinates the statutory co-operation between authorities controlling licences and permits, manages the alert system and maintains a point of single contact for service businesses.
The Consumer Agency co-ordinates the administrative co-operation between Finnish authorities that control licences and permits.
The Services Directive requires that authorities controlling licences and permits increase their mutual co-operation and expedite processes related to licences and permits in order to facilitate the supervision of cross-border activities and increase trust between authorities in different member states. For example, in the future authorities could ask for verification of copies of documents or translations from their colleagues in other member states through the IMI information system. The IMI system is a communication tool and directory of authorities controlling licences and permits in EU member states.
In Finland these obligations are primarily related to the permit and registration processes administered by Regional State Administrative Agencies and national authorities such as the National Board of Patents and Registration, the Finnish Food Safety Authority, the Safety Technology Authority, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency and the Consumer Agency. Information concerning some fifty processes related to licences and permits is maintained by the point of single contact.
The Consumer Agency is responsible for the administration of the alert system for services in the internal market, as stipulated by the Directive, at the national level. If the operations of a business may cause serious harm to people’s health or the environment, the authorities are obligated to notify authorities in those countries in which the business in question may also operate. The IMI information exchange system is used in the implementation of this statutory process.
The Consumer Agency manages the network of information providers contributing to the point of single contact for service businesses and is in charge of maintaining information. The number of industries subject to licences or permits and the requirements related to licences and permits vary from one member state to another, and previously this information has been difficult to access. The information pertaining to the requirements for licences and permits and the authorities responsible for them are now collected in points of single contact. This information is also available to consumers. In addition to information on the requirements for licences and permits, the points of single contact also maintain contact information for the authorities that provide information, for example, on whether a business is registered in a given register of service providers.
The Services Directive also aims to improve the provision of information and advice to consumers concerning the systems for licences and permits in other EU member states and the protection of consumers’ legal rights. The Directive requires that member states provide information to consumers, where necessary, concerning the permit and registration systems of other member states in the industries that the Services Directive applies to. The points of single contact in different member states are listed in a directory maintained by the Commission. Inquiries concerning permit and registration systems can be submitted by email to email@example.com.
The Directive requires that member states offer citizens information on the general provisions of consumer protection legislation and the authorities that provide consumer assistance. In Finland these services have existed for a long time and more information is available through the links collected on this page.