14th Aug 2018

EU leaders agree to protect Europe's social model

EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Tuesday have agreed on a carefully worded compromise concerning the controversial proposal to liberalise the services market.

To appease both supporters and detractors of the directive, the wording of the conclusions at the end of the summit on Wednesday is to say that while the EU supports a complete opening of the market in services, the European Social model has to be protected.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Luxembourg Prime Minister and current head of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that the current draft does not fully meet those requirements.

He added that the directive would not be withdrawn as this would give the impression that opening the services market had "dropped off the agenda altogether" but he stressed that "changes will be made to take the social model into account".

"Nobody can sensibly dispute the fact that we need to open up the services sector in Europe ... but it must be done with respect for certain sensitivities and convictions", said Mr Juncker.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said, "We have achieved in our debate an important consensus".

He said withdrawing the directive - which is the prerogative only of the European Commission - would go against the wishes of both the European Parliament and the council.

This puts the ball firmly in the court of the European Parliament which is due to finalise its report on the directive before the end of May – and before the French referendum on the Constitution.

The French debate on the Constitution has become embroiled in popular fear about the directive leading to concerns that this could result in a no in the referendum.

However, member states are split on their support for the directive.

Some member states – particularly from eastern Europe but also the UK and Ireland – support the directive as they believe it will create thousands of jobs.

But opponents of the directive, mainly France and Germany, say that it will lead to a reduction in wages and working conditions - particularly due to the 'country of origin' principle, which enables service providers to operate anywhere in the EU under their own domestic rules.

France against

The move by governments came after French President Jacques Chirac told his colleagues on Tuesday that the text is "unacceptable for France as it is for other social partners" and called for it to be re-written.

Mr Juncker, who earlier said that the Luxembourg Presidency is for liberalisation of the services market but against social dumping, added that he wants to be able to tell his citizens that "that this directive means ABC".

This is in reference to the confusion that has arisen from the current draft.

Bolkestein defends services directive in France

The EU's proposal to liberalise the market in services is being used as a "scare-crow" in France, particularly by those opposing the EU Constitution, former EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein has said.

Ozil's resignation highlights Europe's identity debate

Mesut Ozil resigned from the German national squad after months of fierce criticism, as critics questioned his loyalty for posing with Turkey's Erdogan. His departure exposes a deeply divisive European debate.


Will Austria's presidency give EU a populist push?

As Sebastian Kurz's government takes over the helm of EU-policy making for the next six months, Austrian MEPs from opposing sides weigh in on the EU's youngest prime minister's possible influence on the continent's future.

News in Brief

  1. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  2. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions
  3. Masked youths set dozens of cars alight in Sweden
  4. Spain and Italy refuse new Aquarius-rescued migrants
  5. Bayer shares plunges after glyphosate cancer trial
  6. Merkel announces surprise visit by Putin
  7. Hungary to ban university gender study courses
  8. Support for Swedish Greens up over climate concerns


While Poles defend courts, Kaczynski hijacks EU elections

While Twitter and EU bubble publications are flooded with photos of protesting crowds and "chains of light" in front of the presidential palace, the Law and Justice-controlled senate has adopted a law restructuring the electoral code for 2019's European elections.

EU Commission skirts Italy sanctions on Roma evictions

The European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, declines to sanction Italy's treatment of the Roma following a forced eviction on Thursday of some 300 from a camp in the outskirts of the Italian capital.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  2. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  3. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia
  4. 14 lobbyist meetings with Oettinger and Canete went unminuted
  5. UK poll suggests Brits would now vote Remain
  6. Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation
  7. Nordic and Baltic farmers urgently need EU support
  8. Migrant death rate spikes despite EU 'safety' priority

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us