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Services directive: Parliament's second reading gets under way
Parliament has only limited room for manoeuvre as it embarks on its second reading of the services directive. On Wednesday the rapporteur unveiled eleven amendments to the Council's common position, provoking a mixed response from members of the Internal Market Committee.
Ms Gebhardt's amendments concern the following articles: 1.6 and 1.7 (exclusion of the right to work and to exercise fundamental rights from the scope of the directive), 2.2 (exclusion of services of general interest and social services), 3 (link between the directive and consumer protection rules), 28-31 (regulation of service providers and their services by the Member States), 39.5 (requirement for the European Commission to issue guidelines on the application of the directive). One amendment introduces a new passage, replacing the Council's text, on possible conflicts between the directive and other Community instruments.
These amendments, says the rapporteur, are justified by the need to "discuss the remaining 10% of difference" between the EP and the Council, the latter having accepted "90% of the first-reading vote".
The Finnish Council presidency, while not wishing to analyse the rapporteur's amendments in detail yet, said it had no wish to jeopardise the balance of the current text. "Several of the amendments touch on the heart of the compromise and the Council's common position. It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to accept them", said the presidency's representative.
Among the amendments attracting particular criticism are those concerning the directive's scope (Article 2), consumer protection (Article 3) - one of the main bones of contention in the negotiations within Parliament - and the role of the Commission in assessing the implementation of the directive (Article 39.5).
Mrs Gebhardt also announced she would table eight or nine amendments on the preamble to the directive. The next two meetings of the Internal Market Committee take place on 4-5 and 9-10 October, with the committee vote scheduled for 23 October. The plenary vote takes place in November.
Chair : Arlene MCCARTHY (PES, UK)
Plenary vote: November