EU Council President Junker invited to visit Dutch ‘coffeeshops’ and ‘escort’ services

12 January 2005

EU Council President Junker invited to visit Dutch ‘coffeeshops’ and ‘escort’ services

Today in the European Parliament in Strasbourg the main topic of discussion was the priorities of the newly-installed Luxembourg EU Presidency. Prominent on the agenda was the controversial Bolkestein Directive. SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard invited President of the Council Mr Junker to take “a tour around Dutch service providers”, who, she assured him, would take full advantage of the directive – and her criticisms did not fall on stony ground.

Kartika Liotard Ms Liotard was referring to earlier remarks from Mr Junker, in which he expressed his doubts over the desirability of the proposed directive in its present form. She asked him if the Luxembourg Presidency was in a position to propose concrete amendments: “If you haven’t yet formulated such amendments, I’d be happy to invite you to spend a day in the Netherlands with me. You could begin by familiarising yourself with some of our essential public services of the kind which will be threatened by this directive, such as education and health care. After that I could let you see some of the commercial service providers who would dearly love to extend their activities to Luxembourg and other countries, such as the Coffeeshop ’ The Happy Smoker’ and the Club Pico Bello Escort Service. Services of that kind are a true expression of Dutch culture and under the terms of the Services Directive we’d be able to force them on everyone else.”

Although Mr Junker did not immediately take up Ms Liotard’s offer, his criticisms of the proposed directive were more than encouraging. “We are opposed to social dumping of the kind which the Services Directive risks bringing in its wake,” said the new President of the Council. “The directive must not be adopted in a situation of confusion and chaos. The Commission, the Council and the Parliament must go through the text sentence by sentence and come up with amendments. It is not the intention to undermine social achievements. We must work together to remove any threat of social dumping from the directive. I can clearly see the uncertainties and risks.”

According to Ms Liotard this means that the present proposal will certainly not stay the course. But, she added, “for this very reason it is imperative that a broad social movement be organised in order to resist the undesirable development of further liberalisation.”

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