Our National Chair Cllr John Kerr-Brown and myself participated in a conference at the European Commission in Brussels today on how European legislation on services is impacting on local public enterprises. We made some useful contacts with other organisations interested in local services such as the European Centre for Public Enterprises (CEEP) and the Network of European Elected Representatives for Local Services (NEELS). Unfortunately we didn't see much of Brussels as we arrived late the night before got a bit lost in the streets surrounding the Commission and left straight after the event.
With over 200 delegates there we were surprised to find ourselves as the only U.K. representatives apart from a Cllr from Lincolnshire. In fact it was noticeable that there was contributions from speakers from Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Sweden and yet none from the U.K. I felt obliged to ask a question just to show a presence. The basis of the discussion was around whether we need a European Framework around local services of a general interest in order to exempt them from exposure to competition created by the uncertainty surrounding the new European Services Directives.
It was the full headphones job with translators sitting behind glass screens filtering the speeches to delegates. Probably the hardest job they had of the day wasn't dealing with the legal jargon, but trying to figure out what country I was from in order to begin translating.