The notification procedures established both by the Single Market Transparency Directive and by the Services Directive are pillars of the single market in ensuring the free movement of goods, the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services within the EU. They facilitate the exchange of information between Member States and the European Commission and serve as a preventive tool in the creation of technical barriers to trade, to the freedom to provide services and to the freedom of establishment.
Notifications under the Single Market Transparency Directive use the Technical Regulation Information System (TRIS) and those of the Services Directive are handled by the Internal Market Information System (IMI). The two systems handle over 1 000 notifications on average per year in an increasingly transparent manner, contributing to the smooth functioning of the single market.
Regulatory barriers (TRIS)
The Single Market Transparency Directive (EU) 2015/1535 serves to prevent regulatory barriers arising in the internal market for products and information society services. EU Member States and other participating countries notify their draft rules in those fields to the Commission. This triggers a 3-month standstill period during which the Commission and the other countries assess the national draft rules in light of EU rules. If they identify a potential barrier to the single market, they can react. Any concerns they identify can then be addressed by the notifying country.
The Commission, the EU Member States and the other participating countries share information on the notification procedure under the Single Market Transparency Directive using the Technical Regulations Information System (TRIS). (more information)
Technical barriers and the single market – why do they matter?
Technical regulations enacted by individual Member States may result in barriers to the free movement of goods and information society services. This prevents the goods and information society services concerned from moving freely among Member States.
Regulatory barriers stemming from technical regulations can thus fragment the EU single market.
The Single Market Transparency Directive – how does it work?
The Single Market Transparency Directive enables the Commission, EU Member
States and other participating countries to react to any potential barriers to the free movement of products and the provision of information society services identified in draft national legislation notified under the Directive. Reactions can take one of the following forms:
- The Commission, the EU Member States and the other participating countries can issue ‘comments’ to be taken into account by the country that has notified a draft rule or rules, if the notified draft needs to be adjusted.
- The Commission and EU Member States can also send the notifying Member State a ‘detailed opinion’ if a serious concern is identified. This extends the standstill period and opens a dialogue phase with the notifying country, so the potential barrier identified can be addressed effectively.
- If an EU proposal in the same area is in the pipeline, the Commission can take a ‘blocking decision’ to postpone the adoption of the national measure.
- The Single Market Transparency Directive has been effectively implemented over a considerable time, with more than 17 201 draft notifications since 1998.
- In 2021, 969 draft technical regulations were notified to the Commission by EU Member States, EEA countries, Switzerland and Türkiye. Of these, Member States withdrew 37 notifications, which did not require further follow-up.
- As regards notifications in 2021, the Commission sent 42 detailed opinions, and issued 144 comments.
Facts and figures
TRIS in a nutshell
The Technical Regulations Information System (TRIS) is a public database providing information on each notification procedure, updated daily. TRIS can be accessed free of charge. It enables all stakeholders to submit their comments on specific notified drafts, so their voices can be heard and taken into account. Stakeholders can also subscribe, to receive alerts of drafts notified in a given sector and/or by a given Member State or another participating country.
TRIS is being used more and more:
- 2 902 630 total page views
- 2 386 678 notifications views (1 267 630 in 2020)
- 7 226 mailing list subscribers
In 2021, the top 9 notifications viewed were:
|Notification number||Subject of notification||Number of views|
|2020/832/F||Endocrine disruptors in a product||9922|
|2021/480/F||Public health code for cannabis||9051|
|2021/149/F||Sale unprocessed fresh fruits and vegetables without packaging||6714|
|2020/410/F||Rule for sorting waste||6619|
|2020/833/F||Substances in waste-generating products||6554|
|2021/161/HU||Export of medicinal products||5839|
|2020/510/D||Consumer Goods Ordinance||5580|
The majority of the most viewed notifications came from larger Member States and concerned issues of general interest to stakeholders.
Freedom of establishment, freedom to provide services (IMI)
Notifications under the Services Directive – what are their purpose?
The purpose of notification procedures is to enhance regulatory transparency and legal certainty for service providers and to foster cooperation between the Commission and national administrations through a transparent exchange of information. The ultimate objective of notifications is to ensure efficient enforcement of the Services Directive and better compliance of new national measures with it, and to prevent the creation of unjustified barriers on the EU single market.
The Services Directive establishes two notification obligations relating to different new requirements that fall under its scope.
- The notification obligation under Article 15(7) relating to any new requirements listed in Article 15(2) of that Directive, affecting the freedom of establishment
- The notification obligation under Article 39(5) relating to any new or changes to existing requirements referred to in the third subparagraph of Article 16(1) and in the first sentence of Article 16(3) of that Directive, affecting the freedom to provide services
Requirements on the establishment and on the provision of services – how does the procedure work?
Member States are required to notify the above requirements in a draft or in an adopted stage using the IMI system. The Commission and the Member States may issue comments to the notifying Member State in relation to requirements notified under both Articles 15(7) and/or 39(5) of the Services Directive. These comments may include observations of a general nature or questions and requests for clarification on the notified measure’s compatibility with the Directive.
In addition, under Article 15(7) of the Services Directive, within a period of 3 months from the date of receipt of the notification, the Commission has to examine the compatibility of any new requirements with EU law and, where appropriate, adopt a decision requesting the Member State in question to refrain from adopting them or abolish them.
Facts and figures