Paris calls for rethink of EU's Bolkestein directive

2nd February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 2 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday he wanted to see a draft European Union law establishing jurisdiction over services provided between EU member states "go back to the drawing board," according to his spokesman.

PARIS, Feb 2 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday he wanted to see a draft European Union law establishing jurisdiction over services provided between EU member states "go back to the drawing board," according to his spokesman.

His stand signals strong French resistance to the so-called Bolkestein directive, which would make EU companies supplying services to clients in another EU country beholden only to the laws in their own country - and not in the client's.

The French government fears that such a law - which would be applicable across all 25 EU member states - would allow a company to set up shop in Poland, for instance, where labour is cheaper, and provide a service back to France at a lower cost than that faced by French competitors abiding by French laws.

Chirac told a cabinet meeting that France will demand that "heightened guarantees for workers and consumers" should be the aim of EU internal market laws.

"That implies refusing all fiscal, social or regulatory dumping," he was quoted as saying by spokesman Jean-Francois Cope.

Ministers have already been deployed to underline France's position.

The European affairs minister, Claudie Haignere, told Wednesday's Le Figaro newspaper that the proposed directive "such as it is written today is not acceptable."

She added that France wanted several exclusions from the directive, such as public services, regulated legal services such as public notaries, the media, and companies managing copyrights and royalties.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in Brussels that the draft law should be entirely revised, explaining that Paris believed "it turns its back on harmonisation."

The draft directive was originally created by a former Dutch interior market commissioner, Frits Bolkestein.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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