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Market, market, market

12 November 2017

Market, market, market

During the last few weeks I have been pestered by lobbyists about the ‘market in services’. The member states, they argue, are offering far too little and for that reason the lobbyists are pleased with the package of European Commission proposals designed ‘to allow this market to do its work.’ What they forget is that services differ greatly one from another and that regulation of the market is necessary in order to prevent abuses. It’s not for nothing that tradespeople study for diplomas which prove they are qualified. If these diplomas come from member states other than one’s own, that’s fine as long as you can check up on them. Yet for the European Commission and the lobbyists only the market counts. This is precisely the area in which you can see how Brussels is possessed by these lobbyists and their neoliberal market-think. Time to stick the boot into this sort of proposal.

The European Commission has declared open season on the regulations imposed by the member states for the establishment of a service provider. This can concern transport, including public transport, telecommunications, banks, water and electricity, and so on. It includes individuals who provide a service but don’t employ anyone: plumbers, electricians and the like. In relation to services which we see as so important that we wish to maintain control of them ourselves, such as energy provision and public transport, the Commission is going full throttle down the road to privatisation and liberalisation. In the case of self-employed individuals, they want to get rid of all of the permits required by member states for service-providers from other member states. We simply have to trust the Romanian government to tell us whether the Romanian doctor who wants to work in the Netherlands is indeed properly qualified.

The Commission is wrapping this up in pretty packaging, but if only some of these proposals are adopted, the Dutch government will lose any control over service-providers. Service-providers in possession of an ‘e-Card’, an electronic document providing authorisation, they will have no need to establish themselves officially in another member state at all, but will be able to go immediately to work. No more monitoring.

With ten thousand corporate lobbyist, it’s no wonder that the European Commission likes to lend an ear to their interests. Moreover, Commissioners can, following their Brussels career, get tasty jobs with these same corporations. But then they shouldn’t be surprised when people turn their backs on them. As long as the Commission attaches no importance whatsoever to such matters as public health and public safety, as long as they find the market more important than decent public transport or reliable energy supply, there’s absolutely no reason why ordinary people should place any confidence in them.

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