General applause for services compromise

The political agreement on the Services Directive brokered by the Competitiveness Council on 29 May has met with general applause, raising the hope for a final deal before the recess.  

Martin Schulz, leader of the EP’s Socialist Group, welcomed the 29 May council agreement. “The Commission and Council took on board 95 per cent of the Parliament’s points. We have opened up access to the market. But we have also insisted that service providers should comply with the rules of the countries in which they operate. I am now optimistic that a directive can be finalised before the summer recess,” said Schulz

Malcolm Harbour of the EPP-ED group said that the agreement on services “keeps intact all the core political points that we agreed in Parliament”. He added that he EP now has a “political obligation” to “look to deliver a second reading as soon as possible”. 

Also the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcomed the agreement. However, General Secretary John Monks, said: “There are some points that still concern us relating to the social dimension of this deal, notably on the exclusion of labour law and social services of general interest, and on respect for fundamental rights.”

Eurochambres, the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry, stated that although the services directive in its current form falls short of the business community’s initial expectations, Eurochambres hopes that this text can be a real building block to creating a genuine internal market in services in Europe. 

The Belgian socialist party, however, called for a general protest against the directive, stating that the EP compromise, now taken on board by council,  was already unacceptable.  Belgium and Lithuania were the only countries not to vote for the agreement in the council on 29 May. Both countries abstained.

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