De Jong: European Parliament rejects further liberalisation of airport ground services

10 July 2012

De Jong: European Parliament rejects further liberalisation of airport ground services

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong describes today’s vote in the European Parliament against further liberalisation of ground services at airports as ‘an important turnaround’. The Parliament’s Internal Market Committee, usually hugely enthusiastic when it comes to liberalisation, came out against the European Commission’s proposal for extending the liberalisation of baggage handling services at airports, when it voted on the measure today. ‘That even this committee sees no advantage to further liberalisation means an important ideological turnaround,’ says De Jong. ‘The vote was unanimous and thus breaks a trend that has been prevalent for many years, an important and hopeful sign in the midst of a crisis which broke out during recent years as a result of neoliberal policies.’

Dennis de JongThe European Commission had proposed that a minimum of three firms – up from the present minimum of two – must be awarded a share of the baggage handling and other ground services at airports with more than five million passengers a year, which includes relatively small facilities such as Bristol or Liverpool. This could have led to dangerous situations for ground staff, because there is simply not enough space for so many competing firms at such small airports. ‘Ground services have already been stretched to the limit,’ says De Jong. ‘Yet more competition could easily prove to be at the cost of working conditions and terms of employment. I see this then also as a principled decision which for the first time puts an end to the ever growing wave of liberalisation emanating from Brussels. Furthermore, the Commission has been instructed to look into the social consequences of already existing liberalisation at larger airports in Europe. This is to be strongly welcomed, because I have seen with my own eyes that the working conditions at an airport such as Brussels International at Zaventem leave a lot to be desired.’

Following the vote in the Internal Market Committee the measure will go before the Parliament’s lead committee on the issue, the Transport Committee. As De Jong points out, ‘today’s unanimous vote in the Internal Market Committee means that Transport will undoubtedly follow suit.’ What makes the MEP so confident of this is that each EP committee reflects, more-or-less perfectly, the political composition of the Parliament as a whole, so an overwhelming vote in one committee is almost invariably repeated in other committees and at plenary. He expects, therefore, that in the autumn when the proposal comes before the whole Parliament it will be rejected.

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