Economic growth in the euro-area is finally returning to levels similar to those prior to 11 September 2001; but further developing the services market and investing in information technologies will be key to bolstering this growth.
At a conference organized by Confrontations Europe on 8 & 9 June, stakeholders and politicians discussed the revised services directive, illustrating the historic roots of the debate and the remaining open questions.
EU ministers have approved the draft legislation to open up the internal market for services. The new law, which will now return to Parliament for second reading, is one of the key elements of the EU's growth and jobs strategy.
In a Communication on Social Services of General Interest (SSGI), the Commission has defined what it understands by the term and outlined its position. The paper does not deal with health services, nor does it contain any policy initiatives.
The Commission's revised proposal for the directive on services in the internal market will be presented to Parliament on 4 April 2006 by Commission President Barroso. It will have very little in common with the former Bolkestein proposal.
Ahead of the crucial vote on 16 February 2006, Conservative MEPs from the new member states and socialists from France and other countries, say they will not vote for the compromise amendments on the Services Directive agreed between senior MEPs of both groups.
The governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK have sent a letter to Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, urging him not to cave in to the Parliament on the services directive.
As the vote on the services directive in the Parliament's plenary approaches, MEPs are facing one last lobbying effort. While medical practitioners are opposed to the draft law, patients' associations would like to have health services included.
In a policy paper published by the Robert Schuman Foundation, Marie-Dominique Garabiol-Furet (Executive Civil Servant, PhD in Law) argues that the services directive keeps the risks of social dumping to a minimum.
Thousands of dock workers have gathered in Strasbourg at the weekend to march on 16 January against a draft EU directive to liberalise port services. MEPs are divided over whether to reject or modify the proposal.
Trade unions from the EU's old as well as the new member states are opposed to the version of the services directive adopted in the Parliament's Internal market and consumer protection (IMCO) committee on 22 November 2006.
The Parliament's Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection has adopted the report on the Directive on Services in the Internal Market, maintaining the disputed country-of-origin principle.
There are complex regulations for many professional services in the EU, hampering competition. A new Commission report shows that seven member states have not made any effort to date to rectify this problem.
Payments of up to 30 million euro are not to be considered state aid when they go to private companies taking over services of general interest. They need not be cleared by the Commission, according to new competition guidelines.
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