So one of the first decisions taken at the EU's spring summit has been to launch a substantial rewrite of the Bolkestein directive. This is not bad, the directive certainly can be improved. The FT comments:
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The dispute over the services directive is a symptom of the political resistance to free market solutions to Europe's woes, particularly in countries such as France and Germany where unemployment is close to 10 per cent.Austrian chancellor Schüssel had this to say [DE] before the meeting (according to DiePresse):
"We know how it should go. We know the right drugs, the prescriptions, and the therapy." The problem was the lack of confidence from the population: "For the citizens, the European institutions are associated with a questionmark."This lack of confidence seems to be the specific problem of right-wing governments in Europe (the German government has a similar problem for different reasons): a majority of the continental European electorate and apparently even some of their own voters have a suspicion that these right-wing governments do not have the common good and the advancement of the poorest segments of the population in mind when they define liberal economic policies. This is why I think that smaller, less economically populist, reform-oriented parties with a credible, serious commitment to poorer segments of the population could play an important role in upcoming coalition governments.
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