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Procedure : 2011/2085(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0324/2011

Texts tabled :

A7-0324/2011

Debates :

PV 24/10/2011 - 18
CRE 24/10/2011 - 18

Votes :

PV 25/10/2011 - 8.12
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2011)0456

Debates
Monday, 24 October 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

18. Mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive (short presentation)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the report by Małgorzata Handzlik, on behalf of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, on the mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive (2011/2085(INI)) (A7-0324/2011).

 
  
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  Małgorzata Handzlik, rapporteur.(PL) Madam President, Commissioner, it is my honour today to present to you the report on the mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive. As the Commissioner is aware, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection is acutely interested in the current progress and in the results of the implementation of the Services Directive, which I personally consider to be one of the more important pieces of legislation of recent years. We have, therefore, paid very close attention to the mutual evaluation process and its results, as well as to proposals for further initiatives aimed at improving the functioning of the Single Market for services.

The report on the mutual evaluation process focuses, in particular, on three issues: firstly, on experiences relating to the mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive; secondly, on its results and further initiatives which need to be undertaken in order to strengthen the Single Market for services; and thirdly, it focuses on the role that the mutual evaluation process can play as a tool which can be used in future policy instruments.

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection considers the mutual evaluation report as a valuable form of cooperation. It has enabled the administrations of the Member States to learn about the implementation of the Services Directive in other countries and the solutions that these countries have employed. Furthermore, the mutual evaluation process constitutes a large body of knowledge which provides us with a more comprehensive, although still not exhaustive, picture of the situation in the Single Market following the implementation of the Services Directive. It is therefore my opinion that the mutual evaluation process should be applied to other policy areas. However, due to the time and effort required, its use should be selective, compliant with key regulations, and always based on the examination of individual cases. In our opinion, the transparency of the entire process should also be increased, by providing regular updates to the parties involved as to the course of the discussions, for example.

In the report, we refer to and are supportive of the further actions which the European Commission has proposed on the basis of the mutual evaluation process. Commissioner, in our work on the report, we were always mindful that the key priority for the creation of a Single Market for services is the full and complete implementation of the Services Directive in all Member States. Unfortunately, today, nearly two years after the directive was first implemented, we have not yet reached that stage. The European Parliament wishes to be informed regularly about the progress of work on implementation. Moreover, we believe that the Commission should take steps with respect to Member States to ensure implementation of the Services Directive.

We are looking forward with particular interest to the economic assessment of the implementation of the Services Directive and its impact on the functioning of the market for services. We are keen to find out whether the savings resulting from implementation of the Services Directive, as expected by businesses, are being achieved; we want to identify areas requiring change as well as areas where expectations have been overestimated. At a time when the most heated debates relate to national budgets and the necessity to reduce spending, we cannot afford to squander the opportunities that the directive provides, especially since nine out of 10 new jobs created in the EU economy are in the services sector.

In my opinion, more attention should be paid to actions aimed at improving the functioning of the internal market for services, focusing, in particular, on the areas which can bring the greatest level of added value. We also have to take a closer look at the freedom to provide services clause. Commissioner, through this report, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection would like to express its commitment to the process of implementing and monitoring the directive. I would like to re-emphasise that at the present stage, the most important objective is to ensure that the provisions of the Services Directive are implemented and applied properly and that the Points of Single Contact are fully operational.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, the full implementation of the Services Directive plays a key role in maintaining the EU’s competitiveness globally. At the same time, a truly integrated single services market will help stimulate economic growth. I should point out that services account for more than two thirds of GDP and jobs across Europe.

The EU must encourage Member States to identify and eliminate legislative loopholes which could present unjustified obstacles preventing the smooth operation of the services market.

In Romania, for example, performance tests are going to be carried out in the tourism, business and construction sectors. At the same time, the aim of the electronic Points of Single Contact is to facilitate access to information on entry to the services market in Romania.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE).(RO) Madam President, as the rapporteur also mentioned, nine out of 10 jobs in the European Union are carried out in the services sector. This area is clearly the driving force of the European Union’s economy, generating roughly two thirds of the EU’s GDP.

We need a single services market which performs really efficiently and operates as a key instrument for generating economic growth and jobs and for improving the EU’s global competitiveness.

Unfortunately, there still remains a great deal to do to ensure the smooth operation of the single services market. I think that, in this regard, an increased role needs to be played by national, regional and local administrations in Member States. Dialogue with them also needs to be stepped up, as is the case with the regions and local public authorities.

The mutual evaluation process is a valuable instrument for identifying the remaining obstacles. This is a shared responsibility, and the success of the actions being proposed will be achieved by engaging all the relevant institutions and parties in this process.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D). (SK) Madam President, according to the Commission report, nine out of 10 jobs are created in the services sector. A functional single market in services is vitally important if the EU wants to be competitive in the global arena. The EU and its Member States are currently in the depths of a major crisis, with unemployment constantly rising and job growth uncertain. It is therefore necessary for all instruments of the single market to be fully implemented in all Member States and, at the same time, for all elements to be functioning, such as the Points of Single Contact, for example. The mutual evaluation process is an instrument based on a thorough evaluation of the regulatory framework for services. Only a mutual evaluation process of this kind will be capable of ensuring that the single market in the EU functions as it should.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Madam President, the creation of a single market in services has been one of the cornerstones of the European project since its inception. The single market in services was not planned as an end in itself. It is an instrument for improving the everyday life and prosperity of European businesses and EU Member State citizens. The enormous potential it offers must be used as a lever for creating sustainable growth and jobs, for extending the possibilities of consumer choice, and for providing businesses with new opportunities. This applies even more in the current crisis.

The mutual evaluation process has shown, for example, that the Member State in which a service is provided often imposes insurance obligations on cross-border service providers. This is regardless of the fact that a given provider may already be adequately insured in the place of establishment of the activity. This causes considerable problems with cross-border service provision in sectors such as services for businesses or for the construction industry. I would therefore like to ask the Commission to consider whether the sort of barriers that still exist today cannot be eliminated for the future and for the greater prosperity of European companies, and so that Member State citizens can enjoy more efficient service provision.

 
  
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  María Irigoyen Pérez (S&D).(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the creation of an integrated and developed services market is not just one of the cornerstones of the European project; it is also essential for growth and employment.

The reciprocal evaluation process enshrined in the directive has shown itself to be a useful instrument. Firstly, it is useful for clarifying certain ambiguous situations that still exist, secondly, for evaluating whether the measures have been adopted by the Member States and applied according to the spirit of the directive, and thirdly, for facilitating and propagating the use of good practices.

However, it is clear that numerous national barriers still exist, which, more than anything else, block the growth of professional services between companies, and that it is necessary to ensure that the provisions of the directive are applied fully and properly.

Ladies and gentlemen, the adoption of the Services Directive was a milestone in European integration, but the reciprocal evaluation process has shown us that we still have a long way to go.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL).(PT) Madam President, we regret the continued insistence on liberalisation of services at European Union level that takes no account of the widening gap between the Member States’ economies. In general, freedom of establishment means that the large companies and financial institutions of the most developed countries will find it easier to establish themselves in the countries with weaker economies. This contributes to thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises going out of business, as is happening in various sectors in Portugal, in particular, in the areas of commerce and services, in the area of supermarkets, and in other sectors. We therefore challenge the European Commission to rethink its strategy on the liberalisation of services, so as to safeguard jobs and development in the Member States with weaker economies.

 
  
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  László Andor, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, the report on the mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive provides new evidence of the main role played by the European Parliament on this important issue, a central role both during the negotiation of the directive and the transposition period.

This report is, for me, an essential contribution to the full implementation and the good quality of the Services Directive in all Member States. I would like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Małgorzata Handzlik, for the relevance of her analysis and the strong messages delivered by this report. I would also like to thank the shadow rapporteurs, especially Ms Evelyne Gebhardt, who did impressive work in her report on the implementation of the Services Directive adopted in February, and, of course, throughout negotiations on the directive, as well as the Chair, Mr Harbour.

Your report highlights the importance of fully implementing and operating all aspects of the Services Directive, whether they are legal or practical aspects. I welcome this. We do not only need an adaptation of the national legislation; we must also ensure that the one-stop shops are fully operational. The report points it out clearly.

The report also introduces a strong signal with respect to the next steps in developing the internal market for services. The Services Directive has already brought a tangible success, but the internal market for services is not complete. There is still untapped potential. That is why we must move forward and your report contributes to this goal.

I welcome your support for the actions proposed by the Commission in its communication of January 2011 on the results of the mutual evaluation process. The results show that we must take more into account the needs and practical problems of users of the internal market, our citizens and our businesses. Which tools should we use to achieve this goal?

Together with the Member States, the Commission has launched a review of the consistency of EU rules on the ground. The Community instruments often operate simultaneously and their implementation may lead to practical difficulties. Thus, an architect based in Belgium who works for clients in the Netherlands may be subject, depending on the situation, to the Services Directive, the directive on professional qualifications, the directive on electronic commerce and many other instruments.

In cooperation with national administrators, we are currently conducting a performance test or consistency test on these rules. These tests are performed on the basis of case studies in three key sectors: construction, tourism and business services. I am determined to keep Parliament and, notably, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection closely informed of progress in the coming months.

On the basis of the outcome of the benchmark, the Commission will propose concrete actions in 2012 in order to ensure a better functioning of the internal market. In addition, we will look closely at the specific barriers identified during the peer review. Thus the requirements limiting the choice of legal form or requirements relating to the ownership of capital can be an impediment to the growth of service activities, domestically and cross-border. Such restrictions often apply in sectors with high added value, which are an important source of growth and skilled jobs – lawyers, engineers, tax advisers, architects and so on and so forth. They can prevent the development of innovative business models without even being necessary for the protection of consumers or workers.

The Commission will assess the impact on the ground of these requirements and decide by 2012, if possible, whether specific initiatives should be launched. We will also carry out a study of the economic effects of the implementation of the Services Directive based on the result of the work achieved by the Member States. Your report shows the importance that Parliament attaches to the achievements of such a study. I would like to present the results of the study to you personally early in 2012.

Finally, concerning the mutual evaluation of the working method, we know that it is an essential tool in the context of the Services Directive; the scope is very broad and involves profound changes in national legislation. This is, without any doubt, a tool of the future, but I agree with you that a case-by-case analysis is required before applying this methodology to other legislative tools. We must be pragmatic. I count on the continuous support of Parliament to maintain the dynamics created by the implementation of the Services Directive.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, 25 October 2011, at 12.30.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing.(HU) The implementation of the Services Directive is a significant step towards a better functioning of the Single Market for services. However, I believe that we still have tasks ahead of us. The key findings of the mutual evaluation demonstrate that the Commission needs to take further steps to enable the European economy to fully benefit from the potential of the Single Market for services.

In order to get a realistic and useful overview of the functioning of the internal market for services through the performance check, it will be necessary to take account of EU instruments beyond the Services Directive. It is welcome that the Commission has taken a similar position and the performance check will therefore not be an abstract thing, but will be conducted on the basis of concrete sectors and activities which illustrate how the Single Market works and in what areas problems remain.

In view of the often cross-cutting nature of the barriers in the services sector and the legislative instruments applicable to it, the performance check is also useful to identify issues of a horizontal nature.

It should be emphasised that the performance check should, in all cases, allow the formulation of sector-specific conclusions on the functioning of the Single Market for services and, where necessary, identify the need for other actions, including legislative intervention if required.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur and thank her for her comprehensive work and openness. I believe that this work has resulted in an excellent report.

 
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