Monday

15th Aug 2022

National parliaments show 'yellow card' to EU law on strikes

  • Several national parliaments believe the European Commission should not be acting in this area (Photo: kaysha)

A draft EU law governing the right to strike is set to be reviewed after complaints by national law-makers that the issue is best dealt with nationally.

The so-called Monti II law which attempts to clarify the balance between collective action and the freedom of companies to offer services across the EU has raised concerns in 12 national parliaments that the European Commission has overstepped its powers.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Among those that have raised the warning flag are Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The three were directly affected by prominent EU court rulings on cases concerning strikes by local workers when companies used cheaper workers from other member states.

Parliaments in Portugal, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, France, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands have also complained.

The European Court of Justice decisions in the "Viking" and "Laval" cases prompted fierce debate through their emphasis on the importance and predominance of upholding the single market.

The proposed law was a response to the debate. It suggests the creation of EU-level agreement on settling labour disputes and setting up an alert mechanism where member states can warn one another of industrial relations problems or "serious social unrest."

The law's preamble notes that the right to strike "is not absolute" and its exercise "may be subject to certain conditions and restrictions."

The national parliaments claim that the commission is breaching the principle of subsidiarity - meaning Brussels should only act if it is clear that action would not be better carried out at a local level.

Many of the opinions suggest the commission proposal will disturb existent dispute settling arrangements in national law.

"The Danish Parliament finds that the proposal does not provide further clarity as regards, on the one hand, the need to ensure free movement and on the other hand, the need to ensure the workers’ right to take collective action," says the Folketinget.

The UK's House of Commons notes that the commission's wish to have a more "committed political approach" should not replace "evidence of necessity for the EU to act."

Finland's submission points out that the proposed law is not clear on what constitutes trans-border action. Many opinions note that the EU treaty explicitly excludes the right to strike from being subject to European legislation

A first for the yellow card system

EU commissioners will decide on Wednesday (30 May) whether the threshold for a review has been reached - making it a first for the "yellow card" system introduced with the Lisbon Treaty and meant to involve parliaments more in EU law-making.

The 12 member states have 19 votes between them - one more than needed to set off the system.

But even if the commission pledges to review the law it may still survive in its current form. The treaty says the commission can "maintain, amend or withdraw" the draft, which was denounced by trade unions when it was published.

"Whichever route it takes it must publish reasons for its decision," said institutional affairs spokesperson Antonio Gravili.

"The issue here is that subsidiarity is a political concept rather than a judicial one. Every proposal we make, we believe, respects subsidiarity," he added, with no fixed deadline for the commission's decision on what to do with the law.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Zelensky vows to 'target' Russian soldiers at nuclear plant
  2. Putin vows greater cooperation with North Korea and Taliban
  3. Hungarian judge slams Orbán's rule-of-law attacks
  4. Borrell condemns 'despicable' Rushdie attack
  5. Slow wind-farm approvals risk green goals, warns industry
  6. Increase in people crossing Channel to UK in 2022
  7. Swedish government to toughen gang-crime penalties
  8. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Germany needs to cut gas use by 20% to stave off winter crisis
  2. Europe's wildfire destruction set to hit new record
  3. How Putin and Erdoğan are making the West irrelevant
  4. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  5. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  6. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  7. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  8. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us