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Services Directive will have detrimental consequences for society and vulnerable groups

26 January, 2006


Sinn Féin Dublin South Central TD and spokesperson on Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh has demanded that the Government reject the Services Directive. Speaking during a debate in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the directive, if implemented, “will have detrimental consequences for society and in particular for vulnerable groups.”

He said, “First and foremost, call it whatever you like but, the ‘country of origin principle’ remains.  Some who have recognised the strong opposition to the ‘country of origin principle’ are now calling it ‘freedom to provide services’ instead.  This does not alter the threat posed.  The European Parliament Groups to which Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael belong would fall into this category.

“The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mícheal Martin argues that the introduction of the ‘country of origin principle’ is necessary to give legislative effect to the Treaty right to the free movement of services.  I contest this absolutely.  The country of origin principle has in fact no Treaty basis.  The government’s chosen interpretation - of the right to the free movement of services as implying that Member States cannot introduce their own democratically determined laws and regulations governing the provision of services - is a massive and disproportionate leap.  Indeed the country of origin principle is in direct conflict with other articles of the Treaty relating to subsidiarity, to workers rights and even the freedom to provide services.

“The fact is that the Directive severely limits the ability of elected authorities to use laws, regulations and administrative requirements to ensure that services are accessible, continuous and of a high quality.  This will have detrimental consequences for society and in particular for vulnerable groups.  To offer an example, Greece has no equivalent to Irelands Equal Status Act.  That is, Greece has no anti-discrimination laws governing the provision of services.  Therefore under the country of origin principle Greek Service providers could operate discriminatory practices in the course of their business in this country.  This would have a negative impact on the social and economic inclusion of, for example, people with disabilities.  

“The EU and this government must not be allowed to enforce a single market in services without harmonising social and environmental guarantees upwards across all the Member States.  In areas where harmonisation exists this Directive prohibits Member States from demanding standards above this bare minimum.  It is important to note that this constitutes a break from the manner in which harmonisation usually operates.  Normally harmonisation relates to a minimum acceptable level which Member States are free and indeed encouraged, to improve upon.  Under the current draft of this Directive the opposite is the case.

“To conclude if this government truly wishes to protect workers, service users and the environment it will reject the Directive.  I urge the government to do so.” ENDS

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