Thursday

11th Aug 2022

EU overcomes divisions on posted workers

  • The revision aims to modify current rules and allow people who work temporarily in another member state to earn as much as workers in the country where they are posted. (Photo: Wonderlane)

EU employment ministers struck a compromise on Monday (23 October) to reform the 1996 directive on posted workers.

The new deal, based on a 2016 European Commission proposal, aims to modify current rules and allow people who work temporarily in another member state to earn as much as workers in the country where they are posted.

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

The issue has divided the EU down the middle, with Western member states backing a change and Eastern countries supporting the status quo, which gives them a competitive edge - due to their cheaper labour force.

The reform was strongly backed by French president Emmanuel Macron, with support also coming from Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Austria.

Monday's agreement took almost 12 hours of talks and corridor negotiations, during which several member states expressed highly divergent opinions.

Employment commissioner Marianne Thyssen, who participated in the debate, said the final compromise is "balanced" and shows that, as Europeans, "we can reach agreements".

The deal reaffirms the principle of "the same pay for the same work in the same place", as stated in commission's proposal.

Twelve-month post

Ministers agreed to set the duration of posting to 12 months, with a possible six-month extension, in specific cases and when notified to authorities.

Member states have been divided between those who supported the commission's proposal of 24 months, instead of 30 under the current rules, as a good compromise, and others like France, which considered 12 months, or even less, to be more adequate.

The transport sector will be included in the posting rules, as requested by France, but ministers agrees on a special mechanism to take into account the "mobile nature" of the work.

To overcome opposition from countries such as Spain, Portugal and Ireland, the rules will only be applied when a specific law for the sector, which was presented by the commission earlier this year, comes into force.

Ministers also backed a proposal for a four-year transition period to introduce the revised directive into their national legal systems.

In a separate package on social security, which was quickly adopted late in the evening, they also supported a reinforcement of controls, to fight the fraud on posted workers rules.

Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland voted against the compromise, with the UK, Ireland and Croatia abstaining over concerns that the new rules would hurt their transport industries.

'Ambitious agreement'

Estonian labour minister Jevgeni Ossinovski, who chaired the talks under his country's EU presidency, expressed "satisfaction" for the outcome of "crucial negotiations for the future of the all European Union."

On Twitter, Macron welcomed "an ambitious agreement," which will mean "more protection" and "less fraud."

Member states states will now enter discussions with the European Parliament to agree on a final version of the directive's revision.

Last week, the parliament's employment committee adopted a draft position, which will be put to a vote by all MEPs on Thursday.

One of the main difficulties in the upcoming discussion could be the parliament's proposal to extend the legal basis of the directive - to make it relevant to the social legislation and not only to the freedom of services laws.

EU posted workers face hurdles

Negotiations among the EU institutions will start soon, but could be difficult on several issues - like the inclusion of the transport sector or the duration of a posting.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

EU takes step closer to 'posted workers' deal

Negotiators from the member states, EU Parliament and Commission reached a 'common understanding' to guarantee equal pay for equal work in the EU. They hope to reach a final agreement in June.

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.

Opinion

Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us