Destre e sinistre europee hanno raggiunto un accordo sulla direttiva Bolkenstein. In buona sostanza, la faranno passare un pezzo alla volta. Qui il rendiconto di

Centre-right and socialist MEPs near deal on services law
08.02.2006 - 18:09 CET | By Lucia Kubosova EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The
negotiators of the two biggest groups in the European Parliament on Wednesday (8
February) forged a breakthrough compromise on the controversial services

"It is a reasonable solution," said the German socialist rapporteur on the bill,
Evelyne Gebhardt, following a series of tough negotiations between centre-right
and socialist groups.

She said the compromise represented a "third way" between efforts to open up the
services sector on one hand and to protect Europe's social model on the other.

The legislation dubbed the "Bolkenstein directive" after its Dutch
ex-commissioner author has come under fire for potentially threatening services
at the heart of public interest, like health and social services, through
cross-border competition.

Its opponents also claim the law could lead to "social dumping," with wages and
social security standards being pushed down.

Stop the war between "principles"
The two key issues - the scope of the directive and the so called "country of
origin" or "country of destination" principle defining whose rules apply - have
dominated the debate between the advocates of liberal and more protectionist
versions of the directive.

Under Wednesday's agreement, the country of origin principle would be

The new version states that while companies have the right to offer their
services in countries other than those where they are set up, the member states
hosting them must remove all the current obstacles the firms might encounter.

"All the rules which are discriminatory, unnecessary or disproportional must
go," said Ms Gebhardt.

Referring to the infamous example, she said "It would mean that a Polish plumber
could offer his services in France, without extra demands by French officers on
his equipment, material or qualifications."

Self-employed plumbers or other professionals could sell their services at a
lower price than their colleagues from the hosting country.

On the other hand, companies sending their workers abroad to provide their
services would be obliged to follow the hosting country's minimum labour, social
and environmental rules, in a bid to avoid "social dumping."

Coverage of umbrella law still unclear
The final verdict on the full coverage of the services directive is still

For the moment, the centre-right deputies have agreed to exclude social services
from those governed by the new law, but keep other types of "services of general
economic interest" within its scope.

The socialists insist these services - provided by private companies but in
areas of public interest sectors like health or education - should be fully

However, some view the compromise as making the law too weak.

"We have been discussing with several of my colleagues that what is coming up as
a proclaimed 'compromise' is actually a back down from our part, as with so many
exemptions from the directive, it might end up quite empty and useless,"
commented the Czech centre-right MEP, Zuzana Roithova.

All eyes set on Strasbourg
The European Parliament will debate the directive next week in Strasbourg, with
a vote scheduled on 16 February.

The commission will amend the law according to the MEPs' vote results, and then
hand a re-formulated version to the member states.

Optimists argue that EU leaders could then agree on basic political guidelines
concerning the directive when they meet for a spring summit in March