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Internal Market - General Principles

27 July 2009
by inadim -- last modified 01 August 2009

The freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide cross border services are two of the “fundamental freedoms” of the EU Internal Market.


The freedom of establishment, set out in Article 43 of the Treaty and the freedom to provide cross border services, set out in Article 49, are two of the “fundamental freedoms” which are central to the effective functioning of the EU Internal Market.

The principle of freedom of establishment enables an economic operator (whether a person or a company) to carry on an economic activity in a stable and continuous way in one or more Member States. The principle of the freedom to provide services enables an economic operator providing services in one Member State to offer services on a temporary basis in another Member State, without having to be established.

These provisions have direct effect. This means, in practice, that Member States must modify national laws that restrict freedom of establishment, or the freedom to provide services, and are therefore incompatible with these principles. Member States may only maintain such restrictions in specific circumstances where these are justified by overriding reasons of general interest, for instance on grounds of public policy, public security or public health; and where they are proportionate.

Under the Treaties the Commission is responsible for ensuring that Community law, including Articles 43 and 49, is correctly applied. As the guardian of the EC Treaty, the Commission has the option of commencing infringement proceedings against a Member State which they believe to be incompatible with Community law.

Source: European Commission

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