Authorisation Procedures in Europe
The following is an examination of the authorisation procedures regarding the European Union Servicies Directive :
Service providers can be faced with lengthy and non-transparent authorisation procedures which may leave room for arbitrary and discriminatory decisions. In order to remedy this situation, Article 13 requires that procedures are based on objective, transparent rules to safeguard that the applications will be dealt with in an impartial way. When implementing the Services Directive, Member States will have to ensure that procedures are neither dissuasive, nor unduly complicate or delay the provision of the service. Moreover, procedural rules should be easily available and easily understandable.
Applications for authorisation must be acknowledged and processed as quickly as possible (Article 13(3) and (5)). If the application is incomplete, the applicant must be promptly notified of the need to supply additional documents or information. As soon as it is established that the conditions for granting an authorisation are met, the authorisations must be granted (Article 10(5)). When an application is rejected because it fails to comply with the required procedures or formalities, the applicant must be informed of the rejection as quickly as possible. Service providers might then quickly decide whether to take legal action.
In any event, authorisation procedures need to be carried out within reasonable periods of time. Such periods of time within which authorities will need to complete authorisation procedures will need to be fixed and made public in advance by Member States (Article 13(3)). Which period of time can be considered reasonable for a given type of authorisation procedure will depend on the complexity of the procedure and the issues involved, and it is clear that Member States might set different periods of time for different types of authorisation schemes.
More Details about the authorisation procedures
In accordance with Article 13(4), Member States must provide that – in case an application has not received any response within the set time period – the authorisation will be deemed to have been granted to the provider. This mechanism of tacit authorisation has already been adopted by many Member States in their efforts to achieve administrative simplification for the benefit of businesses and citizens. The mechanism of tacit authorisation leaves in any case sufficient time for competent authorities to examine the application since the time period should be fixed in relation to the time necessary for examination of an application and the time period runs only from the time when all documentation has been submitted (Article 13(3)). Moreover, Member States can lay down that competent authorities may in exceptional cases, when this is justified by the complexity of the issue, extend the time period once for a limited time. Such an extension and its duration need to be duly motivated and notified to the applicant before the initial period has expired.
There are specific cases where Member States may – if this is justified by overriding reasons relating to the public interest – decide to provide for different arrangements than a mechanism of tacit authorisation. This might be the case, for instance, for activities with a potentially lasting impact on the environment. At any event, even when Member States opt for these alternative arrangements, they must still guarantee fast procedures and have to ensure that the decisions are reasoned and open to challenge before the courts.
Finally, procedures must be easily accessible to applicants (see Articles 6 to 8). Any charges which applicants may incur need to be reasonable (i.e. they should not represent a significant economic barrier, account being taken of the nature of the activity and the investment usually associated with it) and proportionate to the cost of the authorisation procedures.
Authorisation schemes and procedures in relation to the E.U. Services Directive
The following reviews some of the entries in this European legal encyclopedia about authorisation schemes and procedures regarding the European Union Servicies Directive:
- the identification and evaluation of authorisation schemes
- the conditions for granting an authorisation
- the non-duplication of requirements and controls
- the duration of authorisations
- the territorial scope
- Limitations to the number of authorisations
- the obligation to state reasons and the right of appeal
- the authorisation procedures
- Information on the authorisation procedures based on the EU Services Directive Handbook, UK Government