Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

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.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  2. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  3. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  4. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  5. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  6. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  7. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU
  8. German government agrees nationwide pandemic law

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us