sábado, julho 04, 2009

Carta enviada a Joel Hasse Ferreira

More than general interest in social services
Joel Hasse Ferreira in the European Parliament

The European Parliament mandate periode from 2004 – 2009 started with a heated debate on the Services Directive, nicknamed Bolkestein or even Frankenstein directive.
This proposal of January 2004, that the European Commission would have liked to push quietly through the leaving parliament before the June 2004 elections, mobilised huge resistance with trade unionists, social welfare groups and local and regional politicians.
Besides attempting to overrule the country of work and equal treatment principles of labour law, it also severely threatened the competences of (local, regional and national) authorities to organise public services, services of general (economic) interest: named SG(E)I in Eurospeak…
One of the great achievements of the socialist group in the new mandate periode from 2004 – 2009 was that we managed to completely revise the Service Directive and exempt the services of general interest and particularly the Social Services of General Interest (SSGI).

But excluding them was not enough.
We established a group of experts, lawyers and experts from a.o. European orgsanisations of local and regional authorities, to reinforce our longstanding demands for a Framework Directive on SG(E)I’s. This group produced a complete full fledged legislative text for such a Directive. The PES has pushed and promoted this proposal on many occasions, but the liberal/right wing Commission Barroso gave it deaf ears, and refused to embark on this proposal.

Joel Hasse Ferreira had more than a “general interest” in social services.
He promoted and built on the ideas of the general framework Directive to prepare an official position of the European Parliament on social services of general interest, SSGI.
The European Commission’s DG Employment and Social Affairs acknowledged that social services cannot just be dealt with as any internal market service sector. They require much more sophisticated non-market principles and quality standards than what is necessary in a simple provider – consumer relation.
Unfortunately also the strong and enduring appeals of Joel to improve the legal and factual situation for social services in Europe, did not lead to clearcut proposals and decisions from the Commission Barroso. For him the invisible hand of the market was more important than strengthening the social dimension of the European Union.

It’s time for a change in Europe. Both Hasse and me know that this is imperative. We will continue working for that, also outside the Parliament.

It was a pleasure to work together on these issues. I will look back with sweet memories to all the activities we organised on these issues, and particularly to the many early morning SGI breakfast meetings in Salon 1 or 2 of the European Parliament with our friends and allies.


Ieke van den Burg
(EP member 1999-2009, PES NL)