Monday

25th Jul 2016

McCreevy urges MEPs to act fast on services bill

  • The European services sector needs a shot in the arm, but MEPs can't agree if the bill should cover medical services or not (Photo: www.freeimages.co.uk)

The European Parliament must reach agreement on the services directive quickly or risk aggravating Europe's economic problems, internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy told MEPs on Monday (13 June).

His remarks came after members finished submitting their amendments to the bill last week, with 936 separate suggestions covering almost all 20 official languages of the EU currently on the table.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The text is set to take around a month to translate and would require over four hours of voting time in plenary if all the changes stay in the final draft of the report.

"Without preparedness to compromise, it is unlikely that we will have a services directive any time soon", Mr McCreevy said, adding that an impasse would be "irresponsible" in the current economic climate of high unemployment and low growth.

He noted that Europe is facing a "crisis of confidence" that expressed itself in the French and Dutch no votes but stems from the economic malaise.

"We're not going to get the European economy into a higher gear if we do not tackle the obstacles in the services sector", he indicated, urging MEPs to "bite the bullet" on difficult issues, such as fears that the directive could damage Europe's so-called social model.

The directive aims to remove legal obstacles for builders, travel agents and other service providers from one member state to do business in other EU countries.

But the bill has attracted controversy, with some critics claiming that safety standards would erode in the name of competitiveness and others fearful that cheap eastern European workers will drive western Europeans out of their jobs.

The Polish plumber became a figurehead of French opposition to the services directive and perceived Ango-Saxon economic liberalism during the recent French referendum on the EU Constitution.

EPP-ED unveils new compromise deal

The centre-right faction's shadow rapporteur on the services directive, Malcolm Harbour, noted that 20 EPP-ED members have put forward a new package of 167 amendments that might form the basis of a compromise.

"There will be socialists who will accept this as well as a reasonable core among the EPP-ED and the liberals", he told EUobserver.

Mr Harbour's package hinges on an "internal market principle" that would see service providers' orginating countries share the burden of legislative control with destination states in a middle way between socialist "protectionism" and the European Commission's "radicalist" plans to let orginating countries call the shots.

The 167 amendments would also allow liberalisation of private sector health services.

The socialist rapporteur on the services bill, Germany's Evelyn Gebhardt, drew her line in the sand during Monday's meeting however.

She said that a plurality of legal regimes covering services would confuse consumers and risks damaging established standards on social protection, health and environmental standards and the minimum wage.

"I am not going to enter into any compromise that doesn't state clearly that the European social model is of the utmost importance", she noted, adding that health, consumer and environmental protection are "fundamental preconditions" of any services deal.

Ms Gebhardt pointed out that the EPP-ED is unlikely to be the driving force behind a parliamentary consensus, with 416 of the 936 amendments to the commission's proposals coming from centre-right MEPs compared to 255 from socialist members.

She also noted that many socialist MEPs feel she herself has made too many concessions to the Brussels executive's free market model already.

Meanwhile, a source within the liberal group said that Mr Harbour's new package sounds like an ALDE idea, which was originally put forward by liberal MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis in April.

The parliament is set to vote on the first reading of the directive in September or October, paving the way for final adoption of the bill one or two years down the line if all goes well.

EU to tweak rules on Chinese 'dumping'

The EU Commission has tried to fudge the issue of whether China is a “market economy” amid efforts to protect European industry from cheap exports.

Court ruling puts Renzi bank plan in doubt

EU court ruling on bank bailouts has raised the likelihood of a political embarrassment for Renzi, months before a referendum puts his future and, potentially, Italy’s euro future on the line.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels