Pilot study on the workings of the Services Directive in the construction sector: the civil society perspective

23 Apr 2014

The workings of the Services Directive in the Construction Sector

In order to gain a better understanding - from the organised civil society’s point of view - of the implementation of the Services Directive in the construction sector, the Single Market Observatory (SMO) in cooperation with the Labour Market Observatory (LMO) carried out a pilot study in a number of Member States of the European Union (Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Romania).

To this end, the EESC set up a delegation of 9 of its members representing civil society organisations who interviewed relevant actors in the Member States under scrutiny. The exchanges of views with the national interlocutors and with Brussels-based European social partners, institutions and think tanks lead us to formulate a set of recommendations:

The Services Directive (2006/123/EC of 12 December 2006) on the liberalisation of services in the Internal Market has had a massive influence on many aspects of cross-border mobility. This is probably one of the most controversial pieces of EU legislation ever, which triggered a very emotional debate among the broader public and between social partners.

The EESC wishes to give a realistic picture of the state of affairs and of the instruments (either at hand or that need to be developed) necessary to resolutely remedy shortcomings. These findings emanate from:

  • the evaluation of relevant documents and data from various sources (institutions, media, academia, social partners, interest groups, think tanks, etc.);
  • the evaluation of the interviews carried out in the 6 member States (social partners of the construction sector and public authorities) and with Brussels-based institutions and think tanks.

The objective of this exercise was to formulate a set of recommendations so as to make the current situation more bearable for those who suffer from it (SMEs, workers, the very image of Europe…) and to bring about a sense of sustainability in a sector that is put under intense (unfair) competition and "faces gradual disintegration", as one of the national interlocutors put it.

For various reasons, there may be divergences between the felt shortcomings and the exact situation on the ground (some might rightly be tempted to say we are dealing with a moving target!) but the report aims at providing a large array of solutions for policy-makers to choose from. A number of general principles are also listed in the first pages of the document. It is hoped that they will help setting a broader frame for effective and efficient action.

Link:  Public hearing on the topic on 3 April 2014