Apologies. The past two weeks have been nuts. I have not been able to focus on the English version of the blog. I promise to do better in the future.
Last week was dominated by the services directive. It is probably the most important piece of legislation of our five year term.
Emotions around the service directive have been running high. Last week was no exception.
The tensions were rather clear. New states and liberally minded MEPs wanted an ambitious directive. Some old states and protectionist MEPs wanted a watered down text.
The final result was a classic compromise between the two opposing views. No one was completely happy.
I was moderately pleased for three reasons:
Firstly, it was important that the Parliament was able to achieve a compromise.
Secondly, the country of origin principle remains intact, no matter what some opponents of the directive claim. The word is out, but the principle is there in practice.
Thirdly, the limitations of the scope of the directive did not reach extremes. We voted for the inclusion of private health. Unfortunately we excluded temporary workers, but I am optimistic about getting it back in later.
There were, however, a couple of things that bothered me during the process.
One was the behaviour of Commissioner McCreevy and his cabinet. They were working behind the scenes to water down the directive. I thought the job of the Commission was to defend the directive!
I was also rather disgusted by the general nationalistic and protectionist atmosphere surrounding the debate. To me protectionism is anti-European.
Now that the Parliament has given its view on the directive, it is the job of the Commission to revise its proposal. It is foreseen for April.
Looks like the Finnish Presidency will have a lot on its hands…