EU summit retains legal boundaries

An opportunity for UK lawyers to work in other EU countries under their own standards and professional bodies appears to have been lost at last week’s (March 22-23) EU summit in Brussels.

Heads of government agreed to rewrite a proposed services directive put forward last year by former internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein, after pressure from Germany, France and others. Their key objection was a proposed ‘rule of origin’, allowing any service provider established legally in an EU country to ply its trade across the union while complying with the regulations of its home country.

Paris and Berlin feared that their highly regulated services would face tough competition from providers with lighter regulation. The summit agreed that the current draft failed to “preserve the European social model” of higher salaries and taxes.