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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 14 March 2013

Unlocking the potential of business services for growth and jobs – New High Level Group set up

The European Commission has today set up a new High Level Group (HLG) to examine the challenges facing the business services sector and the obstacles to a well-functioning single market in this field. In particular the HLG should make policy recommendations and help policy-makers to identify ways to improve the level of productivity and innovation of business services.

Business services employ 21 million people in the EU in more than 4 million enterprises and have an untapped potential to contribute to increased productivity, competitiveness and growth. They encompass a varied selection of sectors ranging from technical services (e.g. engineering and architecture, IT) to other professional services such as legal services, accounting, employment services and facility management (e.g. cleaning, catering, security services). As the borderline between services and goods becomes less clearly defined, barriers to trade in services are directly hampering trade in goods to an increasing degree. Moreover, business services are crucial to industrial competitiveness and innovation and they are particularly relevant for SMEs, who rely more on purchasing services from the market than from large companies.

Business services is one of the largest services sectors

Business services is one of the largest services sectors with a turnover of almost around €1 500 billion, and are a source of growth and new jobs. Business services are also one of the most important inputs to manufacturing firms and an important source of innovation.

The High Level Group will examine selected sectors, such as technical and engineering services, marketing and advertising, private security services and design as well as horizontal issues related to innovation, standardisation, cross-border trade, impact of regulations and the role of ICT for providers of business services. Business services have the potential to generate more jobs, higher growth and improved productivity, to the benefit of other sectors such as industry and ultimately consumers.

The High Level Group will provide policy recommendations to the Commission to promote these objectives. The High Level Group is expected to finish its work in spring 2014. There are 19 Members from a large number of Member States and representing a wide range of different interests.

The High Level Group on business services was adopted as an action in the review communications on Industrial Policy and the Single Market (links).

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