Setting the Scene: How did Services get to Bolkestein and Why?
This paper traces the origins of the recently adopted general services directives of the European Union, and addresses the question why such an important piece of internal market legislation was adopted so recently, and anyway well after the 1992 deadline for the completion of the internal market. It argues that piecemeal liberalisation of services has occurred on a regular basis ever since 1992. For each of those specific service directives, the EU institutions decided on the appropriate regulatory mix between liberalisation and targeted harmonisation. This regulatory mix was largely abandoned in the Commission’s original proposal to introduce the country-of-origin principle across all services covered by the directive. It is argued in this paper that this regulatory shift was ill-advised and explains the strong political resistance which the original ‘Bolkestein’ draft encountered from the side of other political and civil society actors, leading to a rather different outcome in the final version of the directive.
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