EU Rights to Trade

An important aspect of membership of the European Union is that all member states are bound by the terms of the EU Treaty freedoms to trade. The EU treaties have very important rights which allow a business established in one EU state to sell goods, provide services, invest or establish itself in another EU state. These are the so-called four freedoms and are also bound up with the freedom of movement of workers and persons setting up businesses.

There are two critical aspects of these freedoms. First is the fact that the Treaty freedoms can be enforced directly by any private business against any government, governmental, trade or another body in another EU state. The second is that the rules in the Treaty take precedence over and automatically overrule practices, trade rules, governmental rules, and even laws in other EU states which in any way inhibit the exercise of the above basic rights. These rights in the present context include the right to provide services such as services/information society services to a customer in another EU state, here the UK.

The uniqueness and significance of these rights cannot be overstated. They guarantee and enable an Irish business to provide services to EU based customers. Furthermore, the rights are both the provider’s rights to provide the services and the recipient’s rights to receive the services from another EU provider, in this case, you.

It gives the assurance that even if an EU government passed a law either directly or indirectly inhibiting the provision of services, that law would be invalid, in the absence of cogent justification. A provider is entitled to go into a court in the state concerned and the court would be obliged to give expression to your right to provide the services and overrule and disapply even a national law to the contrary. This gives the provider that governments cannot interfere with its rights to sell goods or provide services.