By Manuela Saragosa
BBC Europe business reporter in Brussels
It's been described as "unacceptable" by the French, "social dumping" by the Germans, but "essential" by the European Commission.
Dramatic action is required to boost economic growth, Mr Mc Creevy says
The European Union's services directive - a proposal to liberalise the region's trade in services - is probably one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to be put forward by the Commission in recent years.
But Charlie McCreevy, the internal markets commissioner overseeing the directive, is adamant that at least some parts of it should become law.
"If you consider that the EU has been growing at a snail's pace over the past number of years, then it's obvious that we must do something pretty dramatic to create economic activity," he said in an interview with the BBC.
"Seventy per cent of all the EU's GDP (gross domestic product) is from services, therefore it doesn't take a great mathematician to say we should concentrate [on that]."
The idea is to create a truly single European market, breaking down the national barriers that make it difficult for European companies to work in other member states.
But what's caused an outcry is confusion over the directive's "country-of-origin" clause which suggests that companies and individuals could provide services throughout the EU using the laws and regulations of their own country.
Critics say this means that, for example, a Czech construction company would be allowed to set up shop in Germany using Czech labour standards and paying Czech wages, a trend - they argue - that would eventually erode the higher standards of social protection offered in richer EU states.
There is also concern that the services directive applies to social services such as healthcare, with opponents warning this would lead to national standards being driven lower.
So how does Mr McCreevy placate the critics?
"I have used the opportunity since I was nominated as commissioner to say that I would listen and take on board their concerns," he says.
The directive offers no opt out for healthcare
"There will have to be some changes in some of the areas that were put forward in the original directive."
Strong French and German opposition means that those changes are likely to involve protecting some areas of the economy, in particular healthcare.
Many people believe that because these sorts of services serve a key social purpose, they should be excluded from unfettered competition.
But that's not a view necessarily shared by the Commission.
"The directive is controversial because it applies the same rules to healthcare and social services as it does to estate agents, fairground providers, advertising companies and private security firms," says David Rowland, a research fellow at the School of Public Policy at University College London.
Healthcare is seen by the Commission as an economic activity, he says, and is therefore " a commodity to be traded across the EU much like any other."
At the moment, there is no opt out for healthcare in the directive although many people do believe there will be at least some restrictions.
"You could end up with aspects of health services being excluded, for example doctors' associations, but not nursing agencies," says Graham Copp of the think-tank, Centre for a Social Europe.
In the meantime, though, there's still much confusion over how exactly the "country-of-origin" principle would apply.
The problem, says Mr Copp, is that the directive "as well as having areas of concern is badly drafted."
Unice, the European employers federation, notes that the "country-of- origin" principle in the services directive appears to undermine another accepted EU law which stipulates that people from, say, Poland or Italy working in Germany or the Netherlands must adhere to the social standards and regulations of the country they are posted in.
Certainly, the services directive as it currently stands says the "country- of-origin" principle will apply to companies providing temporary services elsewhere in the EU, but not to firms providing a permanent service.
"In the way some of the articles in the directive are written there is perhaps a need to have some clarification or change in some of those particular areas," Mr McCreevy admits.
But not everyone believes opposition to the services directive is based on genuine social concerns.
"Lots of countries are terrified by how much more competitive the Czech Republic or Slovakia are," says Paul Hofheinz, of the Brussels-based Lisbon Council think-tank.
Supporters of the directive complain that opposition from countries like France, Germany and Luxembourg, which holds the current EU presidency, have put the proposed legislation on hold.
They expect though that a big push for the directive will come from the UK, which supports moves to liberalise services and takes over the EU's presidency later this year.
For Mr McCreevy there may be revisions, but there is no going back.
"Hopefully I will be able to succeed in getting a directive through, which will open up the services market in the EU," he says.