The Parliament is likely to adopt the Council’s Common Position on the Services Directive unchanged, following an announcement by the rapporteur not to table any amendments.
“It’s sorted. I no longer have any problems with [the Council text]”, Evelyne Gebhardt told the Reuters news agency on 8 November 2006. Before that, the Franco-German Social Democrat had held intense consultations with the other political groups as well as with the Council and the Commission. Since the conservative EPP-ED group has already refrained from tabling any amendments in the Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), Gebhardt’s announcement will mean that amendments tabled for the plenary vote stand very little chance of being adopted.
On 23 October, IMCO had voted down all amendments to the Council proposal, including the ones presented by Gebhardt (see EURACTIV, 24 October 2006). This meant that a majority of the Committee adhered to the position of the EPP-ED group, which argued that any changes to the text would threaten the delicate balance found among member states on the disputed directive.
Following her talks with the other EU institutions and in particular Commissioner Charlie McCreevy’s announcement of a written clarification on the main issues that Gebhardt thought needed to be amended, Gebhardt seems to have given in to the EPP-ED approach of accepting the Council position. The paper had taken the main changes adopted by the Parliament in first reading into account (see EURACTIV, 25 July 2006 and 25 April 2006).