Brussels Protest

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Brussels protestors greet EU Council debate on Services Directive

25 November 2004

Several thousand trade unionists today thronged the streets of Brussels’ "EU district" as the Council of Ministers and European Commission met to discuss the proposed Directive on Services in the Internal Market. Delegations from most member states were joined by local sympathisers and a number of Euro-MPs to voice their displeasure over a proposal which, in the guise of eliminating barriers to trans-frontier competition in service industries, threatens to undermine social ownership, workers’ rights, welfare and social provision, environmental protection, and the ability to compete of any firm which offers its employees decent wages and conditions.

Amongst the MEPs present was Kartika Liotard of the Socialist Party of the Netherlands (SP) and the Parliament’s United Left Group (GUE-NGL). Ms Liotard, who is charged by the EP Committee on the Environment and Public Health with writing the Committee’s response to the proposed measure, joined trade unionists in presenting a petition to the current President of the Economic Affairs Council, her compatriot Karien van Gennip.

Ms Liotard told Spectrezine that when her report was presented to the Committee for the first time earlier in the week, she was surprised by the positive response. "There seemed to be enthusiastic support from every side," she said. "Even the liberal and Christian democrat groups made no attempt to hide their doubts about the directive. With such a broad protest within the Parliament and today a big demonstration of trade unionists on its doorstep, the Commission has a serious problem. Ever more people and organisations are waking up to what the measure will mean for them."