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Confusion over the application of the services directive: the Fr and Eng versions differ on social services

(B2) The publication by the European Commission's DG Internal Market of an application guide on the Services Directive has caused confusion within the social sector because the French and English versions of the text differ significantly on one major point: the question of the provision of social services. Let us recall, in fact, that the Services Directive had excluded from its scope of application social services “mandated” by a public authority. The Commission services added to this obligation, “the obligation” to provide these services, in the English version… But they did not mention this second condition in the French version.

I started by questioning the Commission spokesperson who started by hitting the nail on the head. Obviously he was unaware (or pretended not to be). Then, faced with my insistence, he ended up responding, a little exasperated. “But you just have to choose the version that suits you. As you are French, it will be the French version.”

A little more seriously, I returned to the charge during a “technical briefing” where specialists from DG Internal Market and DG Employment were present. The explanation from the official, who requested anonymity, could not be clearer. “ We do not want a vague mandate, generally carried out by a law, a decree. Mandating the service must be precise and effective, targeting a given service. It is in this sense that we have established the obligation for the service concerned to “provide the service”. Sinon "it's the door open to fictitious mandates ", he added.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).