At present, the EU treaties provide a comprehensive right for service providers in the UK to provide services throughout the EU. In addition, a business established in the UK, can establish a local branch in any EU state. This is underpinned by the European Union treaties and several Directives which have been implemented, throughout the European Union.
The Treaties create rights which are enforceable in any EU court which effectively cut through red tape and hidden illegitimate barriers which are disguised restrictions on trade. Basically, the onus at present is always on the other state to justify regulations in the host state, that don’t recognise the UK (or other EU) service provider and its competence, as equivalent.
The general Services Directive and Qualifications Directive give detailed “teeth” and effect to these rights, by facilitating the provision of services by UK providers throughout the EU.
The general principle is that the service provider is regulated by its home state and must comply the host state requirements only in relation to consumer protection/doing business (in legislation or codes of conduct) matters. The default rule is that services may be provided from the home state into the host state, on the basis of home state regulation.
In some cases. the regulation focuses on the qualifications of individuals either in terms of providing a service or the conditions on which it may establish a branch, other presence or exercise a trade, business or profession in the host state.
Consumer protection and conduct of business
There are common EU wide consumer protection standards in relation to the sale of goods and provision of services. There is a common EU consumer protection directive which provides a common list of prohibited unfair and misleading consumer practices.
In practice, in many important sectors, there are common EU wide consumer protection/ doing business provisions, which facilitate the provision of services under a common rulebook without having to adapt to different “doing business” rules.
There are common distance sales regulations as well as regulations for on premises and off premises trading. There are common product liability standards. There is a common EU wide scheme of data protection. There are common EU rules on services which are provided directly over the Internet.