Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: none

SPEECH/06/687












Charlie McCreevy

European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services




Commissioner Charlie McCreevy’s Statement on the vote in the European Parliament on the Services Directive






















European Parliament Plenary Session
Strasbourg, 15 November 2006

This agreement reached today on the proposal for a Directive for Services is a milestone in the history of the European Parliament, not only because of the importance of this Directive for European citizens and businesses, but also because of the leading role the Parliament has played in the legislative process.

Next week it will be 2 years since this Commission entered office and I became Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services. The debate on the Services Directive has been at the forefront of attention for much of that time. I think that today, all three institutions have to be commended on moving forward in such a short time to reach an agreement that not so long ago, many would have said was impossible.

After all the efforts made by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission, this agreement in second reading is a truly remarkable achievement, since this is one of the most important European-level contributions to the Lisbon Strategy.

Three elements: namely simplification of establishment, freedom to provide services and assistance and co-operation between Member States have always been at the core of the Commission’s drive to open up the services market.

We have reached agreement on a realistic, practical and workable solution. It will cut red tape, remove barriers and improve legal certainty for business and consumers. Business will be able to set up and to offer services free from measures designed to shut them out. Consumers will enjoy more choice, greater competition and lower prices. Standards in the workplace will not be undermined.

Importantly, the Directive will be underpinned by obligations on Member States to co-operate among and assist each other to ensure that businesses are properly and efficiently supervised across the EU while avoiding duplication of controls.

The earlier the Directive is adopted, the earlier we will be able to reap its economic benefits in terms of growth, competitiveness and jobs.

Annex

OPENING STATEMENT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE DEBATE

Mr President, Honourable Members,

The vote in second reading on the Services Directive will be a milestone in the history of the European Parliament, not only because of the importance of this Directive for European citizens and businesses, but also because of the leading role the Parliament has played in the legislative process.

It is undeniable that the Services Directive is an essential element in our efforts to boost the European economy and unleash the potential of the Internal Market for services.

The text which is now on the table will provide a real added value to the Internal Market, cutting red tape, removing barriers and improving legal certainty for business and consumers. It lays solid foundations for a new Internal Market framework with a positive impact on the freedom of establishment and the creation of new business.

This is crucial for fostering entrepreneurship and for promoting growth and jobs. Service providers can be confident that they are dealing with fair and transparent authorisation regimes and swift and simple procedures. They will be able to obtain information and complete administrative formalities through points of single contact in any Member State and, in addition, in electronic form. This will simplify, accelerate and reduce the cost for the setting up of new business and obviate the need to deal with different levels of authorities.

Equally, the Directive will provide a welcome boost to cross-border service provision. The new provision on the freedom to provide services, which has been at the heart of the compromise in first reading, strikes a fair balance between guaranteeing the rights of service providers to free access and free exercise of a service activity whilst allowing Member States the right to invoke their most essential requirements in certain clearly-defined circumstances. This will definitively improve legal certainty for service providers and consumers.

Importantly, the Directive will be underpinned by obligations on Member States to co-operate among and assist each other to ensure that businesses are properly and efficiently supervised across the EU while avoiding duplication of controls.

These 3 elements: namely simplification of establishment, freedom to provide services and assistance and co-operation between Member States were always at the core of the Commission’s drive to open up the services market. The position of the European Parliament has been crucial in order to find a broad consensus on these issues.

In this dossier, the European Parliament has shown its maturity and capacity to find well balanced compromises on very complex issues. In first reading you clearly took the lead and were able to deliver the broad consensus that we pursued.

Getting a consensus in the Council was not easy. Some Member States had serious difficulties in accepting your delicate compromise on the scope of application of the proposal and the freedom to provide services mechanism. In the end, and after a vigorous defence by the Commission and the Presidency of the compromise reached in Parliament, the Common Position was adopted. A Common Position that respects and reflects the Parliament's political compromise with only minor adjustments introduced mostly to provide more legal clarity.

You are aware that the compromise reflected in the Common Position is very delicate and fragile. Attempts to reopen the text will inevitably give rise to a new debate in the Council and put in jeopardy the compromise reached. I call on Parliament to recognise that the Common Position closely reflects Parliament's first reading and to refrain from seeking further modifications through amendments. The vote in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on 23rd October 2006 demonstrates that this is possible.

At the juncture where we now find ourselves, there are no "technical" or "minor" amendments.

I am aware that in discussions leading up to the vote in the Committee, certain institutional and legal issues have been raised which are of concern to some Members of this House. In this context, I would like to make the following statements to address the concerns that some of you have raised.

"Concerning the screening of national requirements which Member States apply to services provided from other Member States, the Council has requested the Commission to provide orientations and analysis and the Commission will use its best efforts to abide with this task. This will not give additional powers to the Commission which may, pursuant to the Treaty, if it considers it necessary formulate recommendations and deliver opinions on matters dealt with in the Treaty. The orientations will merely consist in assistance to Member States for the proper implementation of the Services Directive. They will neither provide legally binding interpretation of the Directive, which is the prerogative of the European Court of Justice, nor will they amend the provisions of the Services Directive, which is the prerogative of the European Parliament and the Council. The Commission will carry out this task in an open and transparent manner in close cooperation with the other institutions. It will in particular regularly inform the European Parliament about the results and the follow-up of its analysis.

Concerning the need to consider further harmonisation, in the future review of the Services Directive, the Commission will assess whether, in the field of services, further measures are necessary and, if so, what kind of measures are appropriate. The Commission will, in particular, examine whether for certain services or certain issues there is a need for additional harmonisation.

The Commission will thereby take suggestions made by the European Parliament, in particular in the first reading of the Directive, into consideration. Where necessary, and in line with our Better Regulation approach, the Commission will make specific proposals, including proposals for harmonisation, where justified.

Concerning the impact of the Services Directive on labour law, the European Parliament and the Council wanted to avoid that the Services Directive affects labour law or the rights of the social partners to defend their collective interests. The Commission wants to state unambiguously that the Services Directive does indeed not affect labour law laid down in national legislation and established practices in the Member States and that it does not affect collective rights which the social partners enjoy according to national legislation and established practices. The Services Directive is neutral as to the different models in the Member States regarding the role of the social partners and the organisation of how collective interests are defended according to national law and practices. However, Community law and in particular the Treaty continue to apply in this field.

Concerning the impact of the Services Directive on criminal law, as is stated in the text, the Services Directive will not affect Member States' criminal law rules. This means that in general Member States will be able to apply their criminal law rules not only to service providers established on their territory but also to service providers from other Member States providing services within their territory. This is because criminal law rules, in general, apply to everybody in the same way and irrespective of whether a service is provided. However, Member States may not circumvent or prevent the application of the provisions of the Services Directive by making use of criminal law.

Concerning the impact of the Services Directive on Social Services, social services relating to social housing, childcare and support of families and persons in need are a manifestation of the principle of social cohesion and solidarity in society and are provided by the State, by service providers on behalf of the State or by acknowledged charitable organisations. These services have thus been excluded from the scope of application of the Services Directive. It is clear that this exclusion also covers services provided by churches and church organisations which serve charitable and benevolent purposes."

President, I have arranged for the text of these statements to be handed in to the secretariat for inclusion in the minutes of this part-session.

I hope that these statements are helpful in order to accommodate concerns raised by some. The Commission hopes that they will facilitate the acceptance of the Common Position by Parliament.

Before concluding, Mr. President, I note that Mrs. McCarthy has tabled 3 amendments on behalf of her committee relating to the new Regulatory Procedure with Scrutiny. These amendments result from the agreement reached between the three institutions last summer on the revision of the Comitology Procedure and can be accepted by the Commission.

President, next week it will be 2 years since this Commission entered office and I became Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services. The debate on the Services Directive has been at the forefront of attention for much of that time. I think we should now move to adopting the Directive and start implementing it. I look forward to hearing the view of this House.

Thank you.


Side Bar