Bleg: the new EU Services Directive?

Blegging for information here.

Apparently we’ve passed a Services Directive. Remember the Bolkestein Directive that everyone was excited about? Well, same same, except not. The new version, I’m told, is a much-watered-down version of Bolkestein.

Only thing is, casual googling doesn’t turn up much. Am I badly confused? Or is this just a story that’s not attracting much attention?

Links welcome; and also, if anyone can tell us more (like, whether this actually accomplishes anything), I’d be interested to hear.

8 thoughts on “Bleg: the new EU Services Directive?

  1. It’s another backroom deal between the UK, France and Germany: The UK got to keep most of its rebate on the budget, and it got to keep its exception on the working hours directive (i.e. it will not have to implement the 48 hour limit that applies for the others). In return it now supports FR and DE in their opposition to the “way too liberal” services directive. In this, the big countries follow the monster deal made by the conservatives and socialists in the EP, earlier this year.

    On content(ion), the main issue here is the “country of origin” principle that was in the original Bolkestein proposal. This meant that a service provider from EU country A could work in EU countries B, C, D, etc. under the rules of his own country (A). For SMEs this is obviously much easier than having to know and apply the laws and regulations of 25 EU countries.

    So the directive’s opponents said all Polish plumbers would come to France and Germany and steal their women and plumbers’ jobs. Or something like that – anyway, it was rubbish as the services and jobs market is not a zero-sum game.

    Naturally, in the current “let’s pretend the world is flat” state of politics in Europe, they got what they wanted. The country of origin principle is no longer in the agreed text.

  2. Eulogist, that’s very interesting. Thank you.

    A question. My understanding is that some of the opposition to Bolkestein 1.0 was based on the idea that there’d be a “race to the bottom” as big service companies flocked to member states with the most lax rules. So, if Lower Slobbovia has low wages, no health care requirements, etc., then EvilCorp would open a subsidiary there, and then send low-wage, no-health-care plumbers into Germany and France.

    Was that a remotely plausible scenario?

    Also, how much movement of services is likely to happen under the new version? Has anyone tried to do an analysis, or even a back-of-the-envelope estimate?

    Doug M.

  3. Quite, that was why the country of origin principle received so much flak. However, as I understand the proposed directive, EvilCorp would have to move its entire headquarters to Lower Slobbovia instead of just opening a subsidiary. Also, Lower Slobbovia would still have to comply with EU legislation that applies in the entire internal market – which at least for the environment is strict enough to make a race to the bottom unlikely in that department. Furthermore, tax law would be exempted from the country of origin principle, so also a 0% corporation tax would not be of much use to Lower Slobbovia. The same is true for a number of other issues where national laws are too different from each other, listed in article 17 of the original proposal.

    In general, we should keep in mind that the “country of origin” principle already applies for goods without anybody making a fuss about it. Extending it to services is really not that revolutionary.

  4. European tribune’s posted about it. I think I’d be unhappy w the original proposal. I’m not that informed either though.

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