EP wants health care included in Services Directive

10 May 2007

EP wants health care included in Services Directive

The Socialist Party's Euro-MPs have described themselves as "shocked" by today's vote in the European Parliament's Committee on the Internal Market on the Report from French social democrat Bernadette Vergnaud on the consequences of the exclusion of health care from the recently approved Directive on Services. An amendment calling on the European Commission to bring health care services under the conditions laid out in the directive was carried by a small majority.

Kartika Liotard It was on a proposal from SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard that health services were last year excluded from the Directive on Services. The SP Member was responding to protests from trade unions and NGOs who called on her, in her role as Rapporteur on the issue for the Committee on the Environment and Public Health, to ensure that health care was treated as an exception and not thrown to the wolves of the so-called free market. Liotard had written an exceptionally critical opinion in response to the proposal from Dutch EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein, well-known in the Netherlands as a fanatical supporter of liberalisation. The opinion won broad support both inside and outside the Parliament.

"We fought extremely hard to keep health care services out of the scope of the services directive" said Liotard. "Our health care is much too important to allow it to be exposed to unrestrained European market forces. I find it unacceptable that now a small majority of one committee, the Committee on the Internal Market, is attempting to overturn a democratic decision of the entire Parliament."

Liotard is calling on her colleagues to vote against the Vergnaud Report in the Parliament's May Plenary later this month, or at least to ensure that it is amended to remove the offending elements. She intends to present an amendment to that effect herself.

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