ETUC petition on public services gains support of political parties and associations

Brussels, 27/03/2007

Three political groups in the European Parliament - the European Socialist Group, the Group of the Greens/EFA and the Group of the European United Left and Nordic Green Left - are mobilising in support of the petition. At the congress of the Party of European Socialists in Porto, former European Commission President Jacques Delors declared: “The Socialist Party must be present in this battle, where the future of our society is at stake.” Pierre Jonckeer, Vice-President of the Greens/EFA, commented: “The Greens hope to see the ETUC petition receive wide support from Europe's workers and citizens. We are committed to contributing to its success.”

The petition also has the backing of NGOs, particularly through the Platform of European Social NGOs. Fintan Farrell, Director of the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN), observed: “This campaign is vital for defending access for all to affordable public services, because services are an essential resource in combating poverty and social exclusion.”

In the absence of framework legislation, the directive on services in the single market will serve as the horizontal instrument for all services of general interest (SGI). Continued liberalisation of sectors like postal services, planned for 2009, is undermining public service missions. Along with other key players, the ETUC has already presented a proposal for a directive (20-09-06), giving the Commission a basis on which to work. To date, though, in spite of repeated requests, no proposal has been tabled. With its petition, the ETUC calls on the European Commission to take measures to protect and strengthen public services. Its appeal is echoed by the European Socialist Group. "We must convince the Commission, as the ETUC asks in its petition, to put on the drawing board Community legislation that guarantees the legality of public services,” noted Martin Schulz, President of the European Socialist Group.

Citizens have expectations of public services. The ETUC intends to respond to such expectations through this petition, which allows workers and citizens to express themselves. “The ETUC chooses to act on the ground and through participatory democracy,” said Michel Delebarre, President of the Committee of the Regions. Former Commission President Jacques Delors declared: "Personally, I would never have agreed to adoption of the Services Directive, even amended, without a parallel framework law on SGI. Society lives from both public and private services. There is no reason to give precedence to one over the other."

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