Home > Député européen (Verts, France) > Économie > Les services d’intérêt général > Outcome of the vote in IMCO on the services directive (http://lipietz.net/?article1700)
by Stany Grudzielski | 22 November 2005
Position générale des Verts
Outcome of the vote in IMCO on the services directive
A first assessment by the Greens/EFA
ARTICLE LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATIONS :
Language for this article: English
The following remarks can be made.
1. On 3 key issues, the opponents to the Commission’s proposal have lost, with various margins:
concerning the exclusion of services of general economic interest from the scope of the directive, the defeat is very narrow: 17 against 19 ; at least one additional MEP joined the PSE/VERTS/GUE block ;
concerning the launching of a harmonisation process, the margin is identical: 16 against 21.
2. On many other aspects, we had the same kind of "balance of powers": usually 16-21 or 17-20 ; in all these cases, it means that not a single PPE or ALDE MEP voted with us ; this is for example the case for important articles related to the freedom of establishment: article 14 on "forbidden requirements" and article 15 on "requirements to be evaluated" ; concerning article 14, the vote was in favour of the Commission’s proposal to forbid economic needs tests, except when they "serve overriding reasons relating to the public interest" ; we also lost on aspects such as:
* the fact that the directive will also apply to service activities that are governed by sector-specific EU legislation
3. The total absence of support, among the ranks of the conservatives and liberals, to the Gebhardt compromises on aspects such as services of general economic interest, country of origin principle and harmonisation, is a signal of the difficulties ahead in view of the Plenary ; we need to attract about 100 PPE or ALDE MEPs in Plenary, while in IMCO not even the French UMP and UDF voted in favour of the exclusion of services of general economic interest or against the country of origin principle, despite the strong statements by Jacques Chirac in March 2005 (but this was in the context of the referendum campaign...).
4. Even more worrying is the situation among the Socialist Group. Theoretically they were to be united behind Gebhardt at least until the vote in IMCO. In reality, it seems that 2 of them (the UK Whitehead and Mc Carthy, most probably) voted against her (and us) on the country of origin principle. And most significantly, the PSE was completely split in the final vote on the whole report. This report was adopted by:
25 yes, including at least 3 PSE (Whitehead, Mc Carthy and Herczog)
5. Of course we did not lose on everything, and a series of positive achievements should be noted; in particular the following:
unanimity at article 1 to recognize that the directive shall not apply to liberalisation or privatisation of services of general economic interest ;
* professions and activities connected with the exercise of official authority (unanimity)
unanimity at article 3 to recognise that in case of conflict between the directive and sector-specific directives, the latter shall apply, in particular the posting of workers directive, the Regulation on social security, the television without frontiers directive, the recognition of professional qualifications directive and the Rome 1 and 2 legislation on contractual and non contractual obligations ;
* possibility for Member States to enforce their specific requirements "for reasons of public policy or public security or for the protection of health or the environment"
* a series of services of general economic interest will be excluded from the country of origin principle: postal services, electricity and gas, water distribution, treatment of waste, health and social services ;
the control of the execution of service will be under the responsibility of the Member States of destination ; the Member State of destination "may conduct checks, inspections and investigations on the spot" (article 34) and "is responsible for the supervision of the activity of the service provider in its territory" (article 35) ; of course there is a contradiction between the application of the country of origin principle and the supervisory prevalence of the country of destination... ;
* the deletion of article 23 on assumption of health care costs ;
* the deletion of articles 24 and 25 on posting of workers (EU nationals and third country nationals).
6. Globally speaking, if we compare the outcome in IMCO with the Greens’ "bottom lines", reflected in the European Appeal which we have launched together with Evelyne Gebhardt, we can conclude that we:
have already succeeded on 3 points (prevalence of existing legislation ; the directive shall not affect employments laws and the posting of workers directive ; Member States shall maintain their requirements for overriding reasons of public interest) ;
Greens/EFA Shadows: Heide Rühle and Pierre Jonckheer
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