France has won backing from several member states - including Germany, Belgium and Sweden - in its crusade to introduce changes to the Bolkestein directive on services, it emerged on 22 March. "There is agreement to have a far reaching revision of the proposal which is in line with the social European model," said Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, as quoted by the BBC.
But the directive will not disappear from the pipeline as everyone agreed on the need to open up the EU services sector, which represents 70% of EU economic activity. "If France wishes to eliminate the risk of social dumping, this will be addressed in the framework of the legislative procedure and of co-decision, which has been initiated," declared Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg on 22 March.
EU leaders also rubber-stamped the amendments brought to the Stability and Growth Pact, agreed by finance ministers ahead of the summit (see EurActiv, 22 March 2004).