The European Union ensures service providers the right to practice their activity in other Member States, with the possibility of choosing between business establishment and the temporary and occasional cross-border provision of services.

The freedom of establishment involves the actual pursuit of an economic activity through a fixed establishment for an indefinite period; it requires integration into the economy in the Member State and it involves the acquisition of customers in that State from the basis of a stable professional domicile.

The freedom to provide services is characterised by the absence of a stable and continuous participation in the economic life of the host Member State. The distinction between establishment and provision of services needs to be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account not only the duration but also the regularity, periodicity and continuity of the provision of services. For his cross-border activity, a service provider may use an infrastructure in the host Member State without being established there.

For activities which require a professional qualification, the service provider must comply with specific administrative formalities.