'At a time when the Directive on Services (Bolkestein Directive) and the Constitutional Treaty are under debate in all European countries, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) strongly reaffirms that this Directive must be revised to take better account of the European social model,' said Stig-Erik Westmark, President of the AER Social Cohesion, Social Services and Public Health Committee and Chairman of the International Committee of Västmanland (Sweden), at the meeting of the Committee in Västerås (S).
This draft Directive proposes to harmonise the application of the European internal market rules on services and its scope of application includes health, social, cultural and education services. 'We ask that health and social services are excluded from the scope of the proposed legislation,' stated in a common declaration the 90 regional representatives participating in the AER meeting. 'Health and social services are intrinsically linked to European social model and are provided in the general interest, in terms of citizens' expectations of quality, continuity and accessibility to all at an affordable price.'
The draft Directive aims to harmonise sectors where there are no pre-existing common standards. 'We want to see the adoption of a sectoral approach to the regulation of services of general interest. We call upon the European Commission to launch separate consultation processes in order to define common principles for health and social services in Europe' stated Stig-Erik Westmark. 'We are in line with the recommendations of the recent report of the European Parliament related to the proposed Directive,' he added.
The Social Cohesion, Social Services and Public Health' Committee also worked on a main problem of society: the increasing consumption of alcohol in Europe and its impact on public health. The Committee decided to set up a Working group on Prevention of harm caused by alcohol. 'This Working group will view the political actions and measures necessary to be taken to set and reach a realistic first goal that would show positive results in reducing the harm and injuries of alcohol to the unborn, children, youth and adults, towards EU and all over Europe. We will initiate co-operation works with representatives of DG Health and Consumer protection of the European Commission and all the relevant networks, for a long term action,' pointed out Lisbeth Ryderfjärd, Jönköping (S) County Council Commissioner and President of the Working group.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the political organisation of the regions of Europe and their speaker at European and international level. Its mission: to defend the interests of the regions in the political process and to develop interregional cooperation. 250 Regions from 30 countries and 12 interregional organisations are members of the AER.
Ourania Georgoutsakou, Secretary to the Committee 'Social Cohesion, Social Services and Public Health' or Claudia Meschede, Assistant, Tel: +33 3 88 22 74 33/35; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com