Bolkestein start campagne in Frankrijk om Dienstenrichtlijn uit te leggen (en)

Former EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein has said French protesters against the EU's proposed services directive are "short-sighted" as they were using it "for party political reasons" and as a pretext to protest against "the French rightwing government".

Mr Bolkestein, who brought forward the controversial legislation towards the end of his term as internal market commissioner, is angry at it being so strongly linked to his name.

"Linking the services directive so clearly to my name points to certain xenophobic feelings", he is reported as saying by Le Figaro.

"It is only in France that they are consciously stressing the Germanic feel of my name", he added.

Mr Bolkestein, who has previously refused to comment on the directive, now plans to travel to France and give interviews to explain the new law.

The services directive, which is also widely known as the Bolkestein directive, aims at liberalising the market in services by allowing companies to provide services under the rules of their home country.

This "country of origin" principle is the most contested and controversial part of the directive, as many feel it might lead to "social dumping".

But according to Mr Bolkestein, saying that his directive will lead to "social dumping" is "clear nonsense".

Some 60,000 people were gathered in Brussels on Saturday to protest against the directive, following an initiative by European Trade Union Confederation.

Most of the protestors were French, German, Belgian, Italian and Dutch.

They were calling for the services directive to be withdrawn and for a more "social Europe".

In France, protests against the directive have become embroiled in the debate on the European Constitution - scheduled to be put to referendum at the end of May.

Several fear that the rising no vote is due to fears about the effects of the services directive.

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