The Swedish Government!!1s attack on EU Commissioner McCreevy looks like a desperate attempt to muddy the waters around the Services Directive. It is certainly not a serious contribution to the debate about opening up the European services market.
The European Court of Justice is at the moment dealing with the case of a Swedish trade union which prevented a Latvian company from building a school in Waxholm, in the Stockholm archipelago. The Latvian company was forced out, and into bankruptcy, thanks to a blockade organised by the Swedish Building Workers!!1 Union.
This case, first raised in Sweden!!1s Labour Court, is about whether or not Swedish legislation is safeguarding free mobility and open competition, as guaranteed both in the Treaty and the relevant Directive..
Despite the Swedish government!!1s claims, this has nothing whatsoever to do with collective wage bargaining agreements on the Swedish labour market. Quite the contrary. The Latvian company had a collective contract with its employees and their Latvian trade union. The agreed wages were above Swedish minimum levels.
But the Swedish Minister of Industry has threatened to veto the Services Directive if, he says, the EU threatens Swedish collective contracts, which are not the point at all. This is all about trade union turf wars, not at all about fair treatment of workers.
The Latvian wages were in accordance with Swedish wage-agreements. The problem was simply that the Swedish trade union would not accept a collective contract signed by anyone other than themselves. .
The ECJ case is not linked to the Services Directive. The Swedish Government!!1s real motive is plainly to provoke a conflict with the Commission and with those advocating an open Europe. It would be more honest of them to say what they mean in the first place..
Gunnar Hökmark is the leader of the Swedish delegation to the EPP-ED Group