The 255 member regions of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) call upon the European Parliament to reach a compromise on the Services Directive during its debate on Tuesday 14th February 2006.
‘The debate on the services Directive has lasted for almost two years. Since the very beginning, the AER has raised the citizens’ concerns over this Directive. The regions now call upon the MEPs to resolve this debate and to adopt a compromise opinion during the vote on Thursday 16th February 2006,’ stated Johanna Mikl-Leitner, President of the AER Committee for Culture, Education & Training, Youth’ and Minister for European Affairs of Niederösterreich (A). ‘The AER welcomes the fact that the European Parliament has acknowledged the special position of cultural, education and audiovisual services in the European economy. We call on the MEPs to ensure the exclusion of these service sectors from the scope of the Directive in order to save their diversity and quality,’ she added.
‘Health and social services are integral to the achievement of European economic growth. This however does not mean that these sectors are a part of the European internal market,’ added Stig-Erik Westmark, President of the AER Committee for Social Cohesion, Social Services and Public Health and Member of the County Council of Västmanland (S). ‘The European Parliament should therefore also exempt health and social services from the Directive’, he stated.
Regions must be guaranteed the right to uphold the public interest according to the specificities of their territories. The inclusion of the abovementioned service sectors under the scope of the Directive would have an adverse effect on the regions’ capacity to respond to their citizens’ needs. It would result in the harmonisation of public interest standards across Europe, irrespective of territorial or social particularities.
The AER’s long experience in regional diversity has shown that regions must have at their disposal a variety of means in order to serve the interest of their citizens.
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