Health and public services will be left out of a European scheme to liberalise services, says the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner.
The aim is to boost growth and create jobs by allowing firms to sell their services throughout the bloc. The directive proposal is aimed at cutting red tape in a sector accounting for some 70 percent of the European economy. Yet Charlie McCreevy has made clear that companies and their employees from countries with more social and environmental protection would not be penalised. “We need to amend the text to make it clear that conditions and standards for workers will not be affected in any way. I will not stand over a directive that allows social dumping.” Critics of the directive, notably France and Germany, have opposed the “country of origin” principle whereby service providers from one EU state could work in the others bound by the same standards as are imposed in their home country. McCreevy’s predecessor, Dutchman Fritz Bolkestein, had a vision of internal market liberalisation that was too liberal for some tastes. The European Parliament must propose amendments to McCreevy’s revamp when it gives the bill its expected first reading by June. This directive was first published 14 months ago.