Thursday

19th Apr 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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He added that the directive would not be withdrawn as this would give the impression that opening the services market had "dropped off the agenda altogether" but he stressed that "changes will be made to take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

MEPs set limits to Macron's ambitions

The French president tried to woo the European Parliament but found that his quest for leadership will have to abide by the rules set by the European political groups.

Analysis

Macron relaunches his bid for EU leadership

In a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday and then at a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, the French president will try to get support for his EU reform proposals.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  2. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  3. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  4. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  5. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  6. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  7. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans
  8. Turkey snap elections set for 24 June

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  2. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  3. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  4. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  5. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  7. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  8. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  9. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  12. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies

Latest News

  1. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  2. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  3. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  4. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  5. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  6. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole
  7. EU investment bank confirms secrecy of VW fraud report
  8. More commitment to renewables from Council, please