"Mixed results" from EU meeting on arrested ski instructors

26-Feb-2014 @ 18:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin today appealed directly to EU Commissioner Michel Barnier to intervene in the case of seven British ski instructors arrested in France.

At an urgent meeting called in Strasbourg with the Single-Market Commissioner, Miss McClarkin outlined a list of complaints against the treatment of the instructors, which she said flew in the face of EU rules on the free movement of services and goods and on the transportability of professional qualifications.

The instructors were dragged from ski lifts and thrown in jail overnight for allegedly working without proper qualifications or authorisation. Now they have been banned from resuming their legitimate work.

The seven insist they have all appropriate qualifications and that these have even been locally validated.

Miss McClarkin, a key figure in promoting measures to ensure professionals can have their qualifications recognised across the EU, said: "These seven have been very unjustly treated, in what appears to be a flagrant breach of EU rules on the single market and on portability of qualifications.

"The Commission has talked tough on this issue in the past, but I believe it is time for the EU to show some serious intent to see these rules applied. This is pure protectionism by France and it has to stop."

She said the meeting with Mr Barnier had produced mixed results.

"Unfortunately he was adamant that on the face of it he could find no evidence of a problem with EU internal market law. I disagree saying that Member States putting up barriers to recognition need attention.

On the plus side, he said he would look into the matter closely to see if there had been some irregularity.

"I appealed to him to use his influence as the French Commissioner, who actually comes from the Alpine region – but he insisted he could only act as 'the EU commissioner', which was a disappointment especially with him having championed recognition of professional qualifications in the EU.

"I emphasised the need for urgent action because of the way the instructors were handled, the huge inconvenience which is being caused to the British tourists who are their clients, and the threat to the instructors livelihoods."

Earlier in the day, Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman was silenced in the Parliament - not once but twice - while attempting to highlight the same issue.

He tried to raise a point of order in the but when he began to speak about the issue, his microphone was cut off. He later tried again and was cut off a second time.

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