Casey, Jean-Pierre. (2006) After the Financial Services Action Plan: A Repeat of the post-1992 Blues? ECMI Commentary No. 6, 20 April 2006. [Policy Paper]
[From the Introduction]. However passé it may seem, the practise of national politicians blaming Brussels for whatever political or economic ills beset their countries appears to resurrect whenever the only viable alternative is domestic reform. Nowhere is this realisation more evident than in the caustic French debate over the EU’s proposed Constitutional Treaty: the notion of liberalising trade in services within the EU was anathema to the average French voter in 2005. And yet, as a pillar of the 1957 Rome Treaty, the principle of free trade in (goods and) services represented a cornerstone of the drive for deeper integration over the past fifty years (!), not to mention that in the aftermath of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, services market liberalisation—up to that point the Achilles heal of the Single Market—was to be pursued with renewed vigour. The violent re-awakening of a debate that was supposedly closed half a century ago thus acquires a particular flavour of irony against the morbid backdrop of the steadily declining global competitiveness of the EU economy. As the stoic Januses in national administrations fight off intra-EU competition, paradoxically seen to be the enemy of national “competitiveness”, while at the same time trying to condition the EU into becoming a heavyweight on the international scene, the limpid corpse of the Lisbon Agenda languishes in the graveyard of unfulfilled political promises. Is a similar fate awaiting the bold undertaking—launched in 1999—to create a single market in financial services?
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