In the wake of last night's agreement on the services directive by the Council of Ministers -- a position largely centred around the Parliament's first-reading amendments -- MEPs from the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) stressed the need to wrap up work on the dossier as soon as possible.
Rapporteur Evelyne Gebhardt (PES, DE), though pronouncing herself "very pleased" with the Council's agreement, noted that she and fellow members will still need to study the Council's text in great detail, particularly with regard to the new provisions on screening (whereby EU states would monitor each others' legislation for restrictions on service providers). Of the possibility of a second reading agreement with the Council, she stated: "I think it is possible".
"It remains to be seen whether we will want to make some changes", noted IMCO Chair Arlene McCarthy (PES, UK). Highlighting the significance of proper transposition and implementation she was later to say that "the proof of this directive will be in whether it works or not".
Malcolm Harbour (EPP-ED, UK) emphasized that the Council agreement on services "keeps intact all the core political points that we agreed in Parliament". As his colleague Jacques Toubon (EPP-ED, FR) later remarked, the Council's stance is "98 percent" in line with the Parliament's position. Pleased to see that the Council lost little time in delivering such a compromise, Mr. Harbour argued that the EP now has a "political obligation" to "look to deliver a second reading as soon as possible".
According to Mrs Gebhardt's estimates, Parliament will be ready to wrap up work on the second reading this winter -- this, assuming that Parliament receives the text of the Common Position by September.
If the Parliament approves the Common Position, the services directive will be adopted in accordance with the Council's text. If the EP should pass any amendments (by an absolute majority of it members), the amended text will return to the Council for further deliberations.
Austrian economy minister Martin Bartenstein, representing the Council, will report to IMCO members on the new agreement during an exchange of views scheduled for June 19th.
Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection
Chair : Arlene McCarthy (PES, UK)
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