British Conservatives are vociferous champions of liberalisation

Atkins: We want to see most liberalising Services Directive possible

Strasbourg. 4th April 2006 -- British Conservatives will continue to advocate the most liberalizing approach possible to the Services Directive, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Deputy Leader of the largest British delegation in the European Parliament, said today.

Sir Roberts's comments came as the European Commission published its draft of the Services Directive following the European Parliament's first reading vote in February.

Sir Robert said:

"Protectionism is undermining Europe's economic performance and we want to see the European Commission take the most liberalizing approach possible. We will continue to champion the causes of free markets and a strong Services Directive would be one way of creating opportunities for jobs and growth across the EU.

"Conservative MEPs voted for the final Services package in February with the expectation that Tony Blair and the Council of Ministers would reinforce the directive. Unfortunately, Mr Blair did not seize the opportunity and the recent Brussels summit avoided making a positive decision. The Parliament's vote on Services should be seen as a minimum base on which to build - a platform, not a ceiling.

"I had hoped the European Commission would take the lead in pushing for a more liberalizing Services Directive. It seems they have joined the Council of Ministers in leaving this matter to be dealt with by MEPs. If Europe's economy is to be fit for the future, we need European leaders to show some conviction in the drive to complete the single market."

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