In order to eliminate abusive practices that circumvent European and national rules and which lead to violations of workers’ rights, the European Commission proposed in 2016 the revision of Directive 96/71 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services.

This proposal has again raised the question of the East-West division in Europe, which is becoming increasingly visible when we relate to the extent of social dumping in the Member States, giving us a fair indicator to understand the tensions in the European space between employees and employers.

Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, describes the evolution of social dumping in the European space, in an interview given for Europunkt to Vladimir Adrian Costea.

Marianne Thyssen

Citeşte versiunea în limba română aici.

Vladimir Adrian Costea:  What is the evolution of social dumping in the European space in recent years? What are the main trends?

Marianne Thyssen: Let me first of all say that free movement for workers is a fundamental freedom in our internal market. We must promote the values of free movement that the EU stands for and underline the benefits for our citizens, labour markets and our societies. It allows workers to escape unemployment or to find a better job, and it helps employers to fill labour and skill shortages, generally improving how our labour markets function.

For this we need rules that are clear, fair and enforced on the ground. This is not always the case today – there is room for improvement. I don’t like to use the term social dumping as this is not defined anywhere. It can take place in different forms in different sectors. This is about abusive practices that circumvent European and national rules and lead to violations of workers’ rights. There can be no room for this if we want to keep our citizens’ and businesses’ trust in a fair internal market.

What are the effects of social dumping in the EU Member States? Which states are the most affected by this phenomenon?

It is bad for everybody because it reduces all workers’ rights in a “race to the bottom”. The workers involved suffer from bad working conditions if companies apply unfair labour practices. If we want to keep the support from our citizens for a fair, competitive and social Europe, we must act. That is why I have put forward a very balanced proposal which will establish a level playing field for company competition, increase the protection of workers and increase legal clarity. At the same time, it protects the freedom to provide services, which remains a cornerstone of the Internal Market.

What are the measures that the European Union has implemented to reduce the size of social dumping?

Last year I proposed a revision of the EU rules on posting of workers. The aim is to make sure that posted workers who do the same work at the same place as local workers are remunerated in the same way. I want to facilitate posting of workers within a climate of fair competition and respect for workers’ rights. This means that we need to ensure fair wage conditions and a level playing field between posting and local companies in the host country.

I have also proposed to revise EU rules on social security coordination for posted workers. We want to give national authorities better tools to verify the social security status of such workers and set clearer procedures to address potentially unfair practices of abuse. For example, sending countries will have clearer deadlines to respond to a request from a host country to verify the social security documents of a posted worker and they will also need to guarantee the correctness of these documents.

We have also set up a  European Platform to fight undeclared work. It fosters cooperation between Member States and stimulates better law enforcement to reduce undeclared work and improve working conditions.

What were the main obstacles that prevented the effective implementation of these measures?

Negotiations on my proposals are on-going in the Council and in the European Parliament. I believe that the progress so far has demonstrated that there is scope for a political agreement and I am confident that a solution will soon be found.

To what extent does the development gap between the Western and Eastern European states continue to exist in the EU?

Since 1996, the economic and labour market situation in the European Union has changed considerably. In the last two decades, the Single Market has grown and wage differences increased. But now the development gap between Eastern and Western European Member States is shrinking. Convergence seems to continue, meaning that Member States grow closer to each other. In many Eastern European countries, the economy is growing faster than in most other EU countries, and the same can be said about wages.

What are the measures that you think are necessary to effectively reduce the scale of social dumping in the European area?

My proposals to update the EU rules on posted workers and social security coordination give Member States stronger tools to fight social dumping or abuse. The ultimate aim is to create a level playing field for companies across Europe and fair working conditions for all European workers, whether they work across borders or locally. Once adopted, Member States are responsible for the proper enforcement of the EU rules on the ground. We can only win the fight against social dumping if we join forces at all levels, including with the social partners which play a crucial role on the ground.

Posted Workers in the EU

Marianne Thyssen


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