EU Commissioner McCreevy: Services Directive must not damage health care

22 February 2005

EU Commissioner McCreevy: Services Directive must not damage health care

In a hearing led by SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard and other Members of the European Parliament, European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy admitted that health care is a matter of such exceptional importance that everything possible must be done to ensure that the Services Directive proposed by his predecessor Frits Bolkestein does not undermine it. The hearing took place at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this afternoon in the presence of some forty Members and parliamentary staff.

As Rapporteur for the Services Directive for the Committee of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Ms Liotard had exercised her right to request the Commissioner’s presence before the Committee. It is not routine for a Commissioner to agree to such a discussion, but the subject of liberalisation of health care has generated so much controversy that Mr McCreevy was glad to take the opportunity to present Members with more information.

“He was certainly not in agreement with the Directive on every point,” said Ms Liotard, “especially when it came to his assurance that it must not result in anything which would put health care in danger, a statement which was very encouraging.”

Members from across the political spectrum bombarded McCreevy with questions about how the Services Directive would work in practice in relation to health care and the environment, questions which in many cases he was unable to answer.

“Not a single Member was more convinced of the sense of this directive in relation to health and the environment than they were before it. Mr McCreevy was unable to calm their fears, which also gives me hope,” Liotard added.

On 15th March the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament will vote on 152 amendments presented to the Liotard Report, almost all of which, however, are supportive of the Report’s critical thrust. The results of the vote will then go the principal Committee dealing with the issue, the Internal Market Committee (IMCO). Following the vote at IMCO, the full Parliament will vote in Plenary. At the same time, the Council of Ministers, which directly represents the member states, will consider the proposal. If the two institutions are unable to agree on amendments to the Commission’s proposal, the matter will go forward to a “Second Reading”.

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