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OSE presents Social Developments in the EU 2006

European Parliament, Brussels, 14.05.2007

Friday 18 May 2007

On 14 May researchers of the Observatoire social européen (OSE) gathered in the European Parliament under the guidance of Pierre Jonckheer MEP (Greens). Every year, the OSE publishes a study on the social developments in the European Union. This year too, editors of the study presented their chapter during the conference in the European Parliament.

Two chapters in the study are of particular interest to Eurofedop. Firstly the chapter on the Services Directive, written by Eric Van den Abeele (Political scientist University of Mons-Hainaut). Secondly, the chapter on health and social services in the internal market written by Rita Baeten (Researcher OSE).

In October, Eurofedop organises a conference in Malta dealing with this topic. Ms. Baeten presented her chapter in a lively manner and concluded that the legal uncertainty that is often used in the discourse on this issue will remain, whether health services will be in- or excluded from the scope of the services directive. The European Court of Justice has defined health services as ’economic activities’.

Treaty provisions apply to health services as well although the question remains to what extent? Concerning the future of health care services, Ms. Baeten raised more questions than answers. However, it seems that developments within the sector are rather unpredictable; last week, Dutch Liberal MEP Toine Manders suggested to ’¨[…re-introduce health services into the directive…]’.

Editors Christopher Degryse and Philippe Pochet conclude by saying that 2006 was characterised by a dual crisis over what should have been two coordination mechanisms namely 1) the Lisbon Agenda and 2) the Constitutional treaty. Sector by sector some progress is being made with regard to social policy in Europe. However, European and global integration also creates losers, therefore the European Union has to set itself ambitions and goals, in order to prevent an ’existential’ crisis from happening in 2007 (See Degryse, C and Pochet, P. (2007) Social Developments in the European Union 2006. ETUI-REHS: Brussels).

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