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Bairbre de Brún warns against dangerous EU Services Directive

14 November, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has appealed to her fellow Irish MEPs not to vote the EU Services Directive into law at this week's plenary session in Strasbourg. Ms de Brún said that ratification of the directive would have far-reaching implications and "lead to certain public services being opened up to the mercy of private enterprise".

Ms de Brún made her call on the eve of a vote in the European Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 14th).

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"Throughout the legislative journey of the EU Services Directive, Sinn Féin has been consistently opposed to it becoming EU law. We believe that the Services Directive is a bad deal for workers in Ireland and across Europe. Over this past eighteen months, we put down a number of amendments to remove sectors from the scope of the directive as well as an amendment to reject the proposal as a whole.

"The European Parliament did previously make some amendments to the Commission proposal which would partially limit the harmful effects of the directive, although other harmful sections remained. However, in the Council of Ministers, member state governments have rejected or altered a substantial number of the Parliament's amendments relating, for example, to criminal law; the right to strike and to take industrial action; universal provision of services; respect for national labour law; services pursuing a social welfare objective; social housing; childcare.

"The governments are threatening a series of services which were protected even in the Parliament's first reading and opening the way for the wholesale application of the Services Directive, regardless of the social or strategic importance of those services to individual member states.

"The Services Directive remains a dangerous piece of legislation which opens the way for the effective commercialisation of almost all services within the EU. It will deny millions of people the quality public services which they deserve. It also represents a considerable blow against workers' rights and social protections.

"At this late hour I am calling upon my fellow MEPs, and Irish MEPs in particular, to stand against a Europe which prioritises headline economic growth at the expense of workers‚ rights. This far-reaching directive reflects much of what is wrong with the current priorities of the EU. Sinn Féin finds this wholly unacceptable and will be voting against this proposal when it comes before us tomorrow.

"The left and the greens in the European Parliament have tabled motions to reject the governments' common position. Both groups have also tabled a series of amendments which seek to restore the position of the Parliament the last time it voted on the directive.

"If my fellow Irish MEPs will not defy their political groups and vote to reject the Services Directive, at the very least they should vote to restore those limited protections and exceptions which the Parliament supported the last time it voted." ENDS

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