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Labour and Fine Gael 'peddling a new myth' on Services Directive 'compromise'

14 February, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on European Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD accused both Fine Gael and Labour of "peddling a new myth" in relation to the EU Services Directive. Speaking at a protest against the Services Directive today outside the EU Commission offices on Molesworth Street he said they were wrong to try and convince people that all the concerns of those opposed to the Directive had been addressed by the recent European Parliament compromise.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "FG and Labour are eager to give the impression that their groups in the European Parliament have reached a compromise which eliminated the threat posed by the Directive. This fits nicely with their desperate attempts to present themselves as an effective alternative in this state, however they are merely peddling a new myth. The Labour party, in particular, are trying to convince people that they have achieved a compromise that addresses all the concerns of those opposed to the Directive. This is simply not the case.

"Firstly, the proposed compromise amendments would still mean that the EU could prohibit an elected authority from determining democratically the laws and regulations that it wishes to apply to all service providers operating within its jurisdiction. The compromise amendment employs WTO-style mechanisms which allow for the prohibition of state measures on the grounds of narrow interpretations of 'proportionality'. Secondly, European Parliamentary groups are not political parties. That is, whips do not operate and there have already been indications from many MEPs in the two groups that they are unhappy with the compromise and will not vote to uphold it. Indeed a number of MEPs from the Labour Party's European group have indicated that they will vote to reject the Directive, in line with Sinn Fein's group. Furthermore, even if the European Parliament votes in favour of the EPP-PES compromise this is by no means the end of the threat. The Directive will pass to the Council of Ministers whose deliberations are secret and who are likely to propose a text much closer to the European Commissions original proposal. The EU decision-making process is complicated enough without politically motivated and deceptive pronouncements from people who should know better.

"Other misleaders have argued, in terms of the 'country of origin' principle, that the Directive would merely enact what is already there as a result of European Court of Justice rulings. This is a further falsehood. The ECJ rules on specific cases what has been proposed, by stark contrast, is a blanket Directive covering almost all service sectors. The Directive is unprecedented in this regard.

"Sinn Fein is urging MEPs, first off, to reject the Directive and failing that to vote in favour of positive amendments. But we are under no illusions as to the significance of Thursdays vote -- what really matters is what happens next." ENDS

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