Friday

22nd Nov 2019

EU takes step closer to 'posted workers' deal

  • The revision of the directive is a "balanced package of interest to all European citizens," said the Bulgarian presidency of the EU (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU took a step further towards granting equal pay for equal work when people take a temporary job in another member state - but a final deal is still not guaranteed.

Negotiators from the EU Council - representing member states - the European Parliament and the European Commission last night confirmed most of a previous agreement between EU ministers last October, but more discussions are needed.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

In statement on Thursday morning, they said only that they have reached "a common understanding on the contours of a possible agreement" to revise the so-called posted workers directive.

The current directive dates from 1996, when the EU counted 15 members and did not face massive movements of low paid workers from eastern countries to western states.

In 2016, according to the commission, 2.3 million posting operations took place in the EU. Almost 70 percent were in the industry sector, mainly construction.

"Let's not claim victory yet," the parliament's main negotiator, centre-right MEP Elisabeth Morin-Chartier said at the press conference.

The 'common understanding' will have to be endorsed by EU ambassadors next week, before another round of negotiations between the three institutions - the so-called trilogue - with the aim of a definitive vote at the parliament in June.

Last night's discussion lasted until 1.30AM, in order not to lose the momentum and put quickly a text on the member states' table.


"Everyone want to go fast and avoid having to finish discussion under the Austrian presidency," a source told EUobserver.



The Austrian government, a coalition between the centre-right and the far-right, will take over the rotating council presidency on 1 July, after the current Bulgarian presidency.

Last night's agreement maintains a maximum posting period of 12 months that can be extended for six months "via a motivated notification".

Until now, the parliament wanted to keep the current 24-month maximum posting period, while ministers had agreed to the 12+6 solution as a compromise to please France, which wanted a 12-month limit.

Two years to apply

As a quid pro quo, the Bulgarian EU council presidency agreed to reduce the period to put the new rules in national laws from four years to two. The new directive will also start to be applied at the end of the two-year period even if some member states have failed to transpose them in time.

Under the proposed revision of the directive, the rules will apply to all workers in a sector where there is an agreement between social partners. Currently only construction workers benefit from that principle.



The revised directive would also apply to temporary agency workers and workers in chain posting. So-called non-genuine posted workers - workers employed by empty shells companies, for instance - would also have their rights guaranteed.

A paragraph on subcontractors, which would have obliged contractors to ensure that subcontractors respect the same rules, was however taken out of the revision proposal, because some member states would not accept introducing the rule in their national law.

Another important exception to the new posted workers rules will be the transport sector.

The three institutions agreed to stick to the ministers' agreement and leave a 'lex specialis' on the mobility sector to deal with workers in the sector.

The issue is sensitive for countries like Spain or Poland, which have many lorry drivers working across the EU.



The commission's 'Road Transport Strategy for Europe', which was presented last May, proposed that drivers who work more than three days a month in a member state with higher pay will get a higher pay. It also proposed that all member states apply the posting rules for drivers.

'No red lines'

Bulgarian deputy labour minister Zornitsa Roussinova said that the proposed revision of the directive was a "balanced package of interest to all European citizens".

The EU social affairs commissioner Marianne Thyssen admitted that the revision, which has already failed twice in recent years, was "a difficult file with many sensitivities [and] different emotions".
 
Thyssen and the other negotiators now expect member states to endorse their compromise.

When ministers agreed on their position in October, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland voted against the compromise, while the UK, Ireland and Croatia abstained.

A source close to the talks noted that with the posting period and the exclusion of drivers, the parliament has made a moved towards member states, and that the former should not block an agreement.

"It's difficult to keep red lines on an issue like this one," the source said.

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 overcomes divisions on posted workers

After a 12-hour discussion, EU employment ministers struck a compromise to reform the rules on workers posted in another country. The principle of equal pay for equal work has been adopted but the transport sector will get special treatment.

Opinion

Commission social security rules hit cross-border workers

The Commission's proposal to revise the rules on which social security system covers workers when they cross borders, originally a technical clarification, has opened the floodgates for national interests to be put above workers' rights.

Agenda

Budget and Bettel on the EU's agenda This Week

MEPs will have their first chance to discuss the EU Commission's plans for the next long-term EU budget in Strasbourg. At the same time, a court case in Luxembourg may shake up the 'rule of law' debate.

Feature

Migrants in Malmo - separating fact from fiction

Despite the neighbourhood's beautiful name, the reputation of Rosengård (Rose Garden) does not so much evoke images of roses as headlines of crime and social challenges. This area of Malmö has been struggling with its notorious, mythical, image for years.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament votes on new commission next week
  2. Berlusconi wants Europe to be a military global power
  3. Orban ordered to apologise over 'misleading' Soros survey
  4. EPP to decide on expelling Fidesz by end of January
  5. Rowdy anti-corruption protest in Malta
  6. Ambassador: Trump ordered Ukraine election meddling
  7. EU links Libyan government to human trafficking
  8. Greek PM on migration: 'Greece has reached its limits'

Stakeholder

FIFA's schools programme aims to reach 700m children

Football clubs today invest huge sums of money in youth development and court talented young players from an early age. Children are the future – not only where football is concerned, but also for society in general.

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. EPP congress pledges 'moderate' climate solution
  2. EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans
  3. New EU financial instruments needed
  4. Binding measures to expand gender balance
  5. Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong
  6. EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration
  7. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  8. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us