Unprecedented EU Commission power grab fails as Services Directive reform collapses
European Commission plans to reform the EU Services Directive have quietly collapsed. With strong disagreements on the proposal in the Council ahead of last week’s final European Parliament plenary session, there is no time left to move the reform ahead in this legislature. Whether a new Commission will revive the proposal is questionable, given the strong civil society backlash against a core element of the proposal,the so-called Services Notification Procedure.
Corporate Europe Observatory’s researcher and campaigner Olivier Hoedeman commented:
“The collapse of the reform is really good news for local democracy in Europe. Its centrepiece was an EU Commission veto right over any decisions affecting the services sector - from the city level all the way up to the national level. Hundreds of civil society organisations, municipal and regional parties as well as mayors were right to fight this unprecedented power grab by the Commission.
“Municipalities need democratic space to protect the interests of their citizens. We strongly recommend the incoming EU Commission heed the lessons of this failed attempt to further increase its decision-making powers at the expense of local democracy.”
Notes to Editors
Civil society’s statement declaring the defeat of the Services Notification Procedure: “Municipalities and citizen movements defeat anti-democratic EU directive”
Corporate Europe Observatory today also submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman regarding the serious bias in the Commission's preparations for the services notification directive, which violated the institution’s own rules for civil society consultations. The investigation at the basis of CEO’s complaint is available here: "Veto power to please lobbyists – corporations behind Commission power grab over services".
Corporate Europe Observatory’s Q&A on the proposed reform of the EU's Services in the Internal Market Directive spells out what were the most important – and worrying – features of the proposal’s centrepiece: the Services Notification Procedure. (The Q&A is also available in ES, NL, FR, DK, IT and DE).
When it first came into force in 2006, the Services Directive – already far from uncontroversial - also became known as the ‘Bolkestein Directive’, nicknamed after its architect, the former European Commisioner for the Internal Market Frits Bolkestein.
Civil society open letters opposing the reform were sent to the Austrian EU Presidency in 2018, as well as to the current Romanian one, representing 160 civil society and local authority signatories from across Europe.
For additional information about the growing municipalist movement in Europe – and the hurdles it faces: “The EU’s obstacle course for municipalism”.
Olivier Hoedeman, firstname.lastname@example.org,+32 (0) 289 30930