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In considering either the EU Services Directive or WTO rules on services, it is clear that the goal in each case is the same: the removal of obstacles to the free movement of services. However, a number of formidable forces – including the anti-globalisation movement, other civil society groups, and some EU Member States – have raised concerns regarding the effect of liberalization of services on the quality and availability of public services such as health care and education, and the compatibility of such liberalization with social policy objectives. Thus it is clear that the central question at both EU and WTO level is how to balance the proper functioning of the services market and the realization of general interest issues.
This book, which is the outcome of a 2006 conference organized by the Europa Institute of Utrecht and edited at the Radboud University Nijmegen, makes a major contribution to improving the understanding of services liberalization and its limits in both the scholarly and public debate. Eleven well-known authorities in European and international (economic) law deal incisively with such crucial issues as the following:
the influence of the EU Services Directive on the national legal orders of the Member States; the relationship between EU law on the liberalization of services and fundamental rights; the case law of the ECJ on services of general economic interest; prospects for harmonization of services of general economic interest at EU level; the impact of public procurement law on services; interrelation of WTO rules and the EU law on services; and how public interest issues are accommodated in WTO law.
It is surprising that, as the services sector plays a major role in Europe’s economy, legal scholarship in this area is so sparse. This in-depth examination of tensions emerging between the goals of the European market and general interest objectives at the level of the Member States fills an important need for lawyers, policymakers, officials, and academics striving to clarify and formulate effective principles and rules in this important area of the European and global economies.