With the presentation of the long-awaited Social Fairness Package on 13 March 2018, the Commission released its proposal for a so-called “European Labour Authority”.
The tasks to be undertaken by the new EU labour authority are quite extensive, ranging from information tasks, support for cross-border work to checks on serious labour market disturbances affecting several Member States. The purpose of the Authority is therefore to ensure that European legislation regulating cross-border employment can be easily and effectively applied.
Therefore, the Authority should, on the one hand, undertake information tasks for cross-border workers: for example, the regulation proposal mentions the aim of informing companies which labour law should be applied in cross-border work. Member States should therefore be assisted in providing the necessary information. In addition, the Authority should provide assistance and mediation in cross-border conflicts of national authorities and in cases of serious distortions in the labour market, including the possibility of joint inspections.
On the other hand, European workers should benefit from cross-border mobility: the authorities will provide them with a platform on which they can find out about job opportunities in other Member States.
SOLIDAR stresses the fact that mobile workers, especially posted workers, are facing a multitude of problems such as labour rights violations and difficult access to social insurance. Many of these problems can be attributed to the fact that posted workers move between national systems: they are vulnerable to exploitation, and their complaints often slip through the cracks between national systems of social security and labour rights enforcement.
The proposal of a European Labour Authority is a step in the right direction. To be effective, it needs a strong mandate and sufficient funding. Like EU institutions and bodies generally, however, it will have to depend on relations with national authorities. In order for it to help improve the situation of posted workers, it must have direct access to workers at their different workplaces as well as to national databases - with the collaboration of the different national inspection authorities. The ELA should also be the place where workers can go when they experience difficulties and national authorities will not or cannot help.
SOLIDAR is closely following the further evolvements around the Labour Authority, amongst others through our work in the PROMO project.