10/16/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/16/2019 05:32
What is the European Labour Authority?
The European Labour Authority is the new EU agency that will contribute to fostering fairness and mutual trust in the Internal Market by ensuring that EU labour rules are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way. To this end, the Authority will support Member States in matters relating to cross-border labour mobility, including rules on the free movement of workers, the posting of workers and the coordination of social security systems. It will also enhance cooperation between Member States in tackling undeclared work.
Specifically, the Authority will have the following objectives:
(1) facilitate access to information on rights and obligations regarding labour mobility across the Union as well as to relevant services;
(2) facilitate and enhance cooperation between Member States in the enforcement of relevant Union law across the Union, including facilitating concerted and joint inspections and tackling undeclared work;
(3) mediate and facilitate solutions in cases of cross-border difficulties.
Where does the initiative for a European Labour Authority come from?
Building a more social Europe and strengthening fairness in the Internal Market is a key priority for this Commission, as indicated in the Political Guidelines of July 2014. Several initiatives have been presented to improve EU rules for labour mobility, such as the revision of the rules on posting of workers and the modernisation of the rules of coordination of social security systems. To help ensure that these rules are well applied on the ground, President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed to establish a European Labour Authority in his State of the Union address to the European Parliament on 13 September 2017 : 'We should make sure that all EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way by a new European inspection and enforcement body. It seems absurd to have a Banking Authority to police banking standards, but no common Labour Authority for our Single Market.'
Since this announcement, the Commission presented its proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Labour Authority as part of the Social Fairness Package on 13 March 2018. In February 2019, the European Parliament and the Council - with Commissioner Thyssen participating in the negotiations on behalf of the Commission - agreed, in a record-time of less than one year, on the legislative text. Regulation (EU) 2019/1149 establishing a European Labour Authority was adopted on 20 June 2019 and entered into force on 31 July 2019.
Why do we need a European Labour Authority?
Today 17.5 million Europeans live or work in a Member State other than that of their nationality. This figure has almost doubled compared to a decade ago. At the same time, thousands of businesses operate across borders on a daily basis. Cross-border activity is a fact of life in the EU that needs to be well managed, which benefits individuals, economies and societies as a whole.
Free movement is also one of the most cherished freedoms of the Internal Market. According to the Eurobarometer (Spring 2018), more than 8 in 10 Europeans support 'free movement of EU citizens who can live, work, study and do business anywhere in the EU'.
To promote free movement of workers within the Union, we need clear, fair and enforceable rules. The EU has already developed an extensive body of legislation regulating the free movement of workers, which it continues to improve and modernise.
The creation of a European Labour Authority will allow individuals and businesses to access reliable information and practical services, including information on opportunities, rules, and their rights and obligations in cross-border situations. Moreover, the Authority will facilitate and improve cooperation between national authorities, by providing them with the right tools to share information, develop day-to-day cooperation routines, carry out joint and concerted inspections and solve possible cross-border disputes in a speedy and efficient manner.
TASKS AND SCOPE OF THE EUROPEAN LABOUR AUTHORITY
What are the tasks of the European Labour Authority?
In carrying out its day-to-day tasks, the Authority will:
What are the sectors in which the European Labour Authority will be active?
Since labour mobility affects all areas of the economy, the European Labour Authority will cover all economic sectors. The focus lies on horizontal rules for the free movement of workers, posting of workers, and social security coordination; but sector-specific Union law in the area of international transport will also be covered.
In the international road transport sector alone, over 2 million workers cross intra-EU borders every day, transporting goods or passengers. Enforcing EU labour mobility rules in this sector has proven to be challenging. The operational support the European Labour Authority provides to national authorities can also help to ensure the fair and effective enforcement of EU mobility rules in this sector.
Will the European Labour Authority serve only workers or will it also address the needs of jobseekers, family members, or third-country nationals?
The European Labour Authority will help enforce EU rules in the area of free movement of workers, posting of workers, and social security coordination. While some of these pieces of EU legislation concern only workers, others (in particular on social security coordination) cover all persons regardless of their economic status. Hence, the Authority will also benefit these individuals to the extent that they are covered by the EU rules mentioned.
Will the European Labour Authority organise inspections on its own?
No. The right to launch and to carry out an inspection, whether national or cross-border, remains at the national level. The Authority can, however, suggest a joint inspection to Member States and support its organisation, should it stumble upon a possible case of fraud or abuse. National social partners can also bring a case to the attention of the Authority. Inspections will in any event be carried out only with the agreement of the Member States concerned and in accordance with their national law and practices.
What kind of disputes will the European Labour Authority deal with?
The Authority will provide mediation exclusively in cases of disputes between national authorities regarding the application of Union law in the area of labour mobility and social security coordination, at the request of the parties.
Individuals and employers will continue to use existing services for problem-solving and advice (for instance SOLVIT and Your Europe Advice), and they can rely on national courts in case of disputes regarding the application of EU law on labour mobility and social security coordination.
ORGANISATIONAL SET-UP OF THE EUROPEAN LABOUR AUTHORITY
What will be the administrative capacity of the Authority?
The European Labour Authority has started its activities and is expected to be operational at full capacity by 2024.
In that year, the Authority's estimated annual budget will reach around €50 million. It will have approximately 140 members of staff, including National Liaison Officers seconded by their Member States.
The Member States decided that the seat of the Authority will be in Bratislava, Slovakia. While the necessary steps are taken to organise the transfer as soon as possible, the Authority will operate initially from Brussels.
What will the administrative and management structure of the Authority look like?
The administrative and management structure will comprise a Management Board, an Executive Director, and a Stakeholder Group.
The Stakeholder Group will have an advisory role, and it will be composed of two representatives of the Commission and ten representatives of the Union-level social partners, with an equal representation of trade union and employer organisations.
The Group will submit opinions on the activities and budget of the Authority and on relevant issues relating to EU labour mobility, supporting the work of the Authority with the expertise of the social partners.
Who is part of the Management Board of the European Labour Authority?
The Management Board of the European Labour Authority is composed of:
In line with the founding Regulation, only the representatives from the Member States and from the Commission have voting rights.
Representatives from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland may participate, and other EU agencies in the employment and social field may be invited to participate as observers in the meetings of the Board.
What is on the agenda of the first Management Board meeting?
The Management Board of the European Labour Authority meets for the first time on 17 October.
It is invited to discuss the first administrative decisions that will make the Authority operational, such as adopting the budget and work programme for the remainder of the year 2019 and discussing the terms of the vacancy notice for the post of Executive Director of the Authority, to be published shortly. The Management Board will also initiate the discussions on the priorities of the European Labour Authority for 2020.
A second meeting of the Management Board will take place in December 2019 to adopt the work programme and budget for the year 2020.
ADDED VALUE OF THE EUROPEAN LABOUR AUTHORITY
How will the European Labour Authority help to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights?
The European Pillar of Social Rights was jointly proclaimed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in November 2017, at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg. The Pillar sets out 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems. It is designed to serve as a compass for a renewed process of convergence towards better working and living conditions across the Union, ensuring individuals enjoy equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions, as well as adequate social protection and inclusion.
Ensuring fair labour mobility in Europe is central to delivering on the principles and rights of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The European Labour Authority will do so by ensuring that workers' and individuals' rights to equal treatment and opportunities in the areas of employment and social security are guaranteed in cross-border situations.
How will Member States benefit from the European Labour Authority?
The European Labour Authority will improve operational cooperation on labour mobility by providing a permanent EU structure for supporting national authorities through a number of newly established tools and procedures.
The Authority will facilitate cooperation and information exchange, in particular through National Liaison Officers seconded by Member States to the European Labour Authority. They will act as contact points for questions related to their Member States, including in cases of requests for data exchange or proposals for joint inspections. The National Liaison Officers will speed up exchanges and improve cooperation between national authorities. At the request of the Member States concerned, the Authority will coordinate and provide support to concerted and joint inspections on labour mobility matters. Finally, the Authority will support cooperation between Member States in the field of undeclared work by incorporating the current Platform tackling Undeclared Work.
The Authority will also work on labour mobility analyses and risk assessments in order to keep track of emerging trends and challenges in the areas covered by its scope. It will do so in close cooperation with other EU agencies in the employment and social field.
The Authority will support national authorities with capacity building. Faced with the need to respond quickly to an increasing number of requests from other countries, national enforcement authorities, such as labour inspectorates or social security institutions, do not always have the operational capacity to ensure the efficient handling of cross-border cases. The Authority will support national capacity-building though mutual learning, training, and the promotion of good practices.
Finally, the Authority will provide mediation in cases of disputes between national authorities regarding the application of Union law in the area of labour mobility and social security coordination, so that differences are solved speedily and efficiently. A dedicated Mediation Board will be established for this purpose.
How will individuals and businesses benefit from the European Labour Authority?
Individuals and businesses will be able to access information more easily at EU and national level as regards labour mobility. For instance, a worker or employer in the construction sector would find information on job opportunities and rights and obligations, including on working conditions, wages, or specific health and safety requirements. SMEs would particularly benefit from enhanced access to information, since 90% of businesses registered on the current EURES Job Mobility Portal are SMEs.
Concretely, the Authority will be responsible for the management of the European Coordination Office of EURES and for the Job Mobility Portal, which provides information for individuals and businesses on employment and recruitment opportunities, practical information on working abroad, as well as a job-matching tool.
Building on the EURES portal, and in synergy with the recently established Single Digital Gateway, the Authority will ensure that the public has access to the information they need to make choices and exercise their rights related to cross-border labour mobility, including in the areas of posting of workers and social security.
The Authority will also promote the availability of information concerning relevant national laws, as well as sector-specific rules (for instance, sectorial national collective agreements). In particular, the Authority willprovide assistance to Member States to improve the accuracy and user-friendliness of the information provided on their national webpages, in line with the quality standards set out by Single Digital Gateway.
SYNERGIES WITH EXISTING EU BODIES AND AGENCIES
How will the European Labour Authority cooperate with existing EU agencies?
Four EU agencies currently operate in the area of employment policy: the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the European Training Foundation (ETF). They provide expertise in their respective fields, but do not cover cross-border issues as such. The European Labour Authority will therefore cooperate with these agencies in order to ensure complementarity and consistency with their activities. Synergies can be developed by relying on their expertise, for example in terms of skills forecasting, health and safety at work, and tackling undeclared work. The Authority will draw on this to support its own analyses and risk assessments on issues in the field cross-border labour mobility. A number of existing administrative committees and networks will also be integrated in the Authority, to simplify cooperation amongst Member States and eliminate fragmentation.
The Authority will also co-operate with other EU agencies where relevant, for instance Europol and Eurojust, on issues relating to the criminal activities in the area of labour mobility.
How will the creation of a European Labour Authority simplify the existing setup of EU bodies in the field of labour mobility?
The European Labour Authority will simplify the current institutional setup in the field labour mobility and social security coordination by pooling operational tasks that are currently dispersed across different EU bodies into a permanent structure that provides a strengthened forum for cooperation and joint investigative activities.
By doing so, the Authority will integrate four existing EU bodies: the Technical Committee on the Free Movement of Workers, the Committee of Experts on Posting of Workers, the European Platform to enhance cooperation in tackling undeclared work and the EURES European Coordination Office.
The Authority will cooperate closely with EU bodies that continue to operate under their current setup, such as the Administrative Commission for the Coordination of Social Security Systems and its technical bodies, the Advisory Committee for the Coordination of Social Security Systems, and the Advisory Committee on the Free Movement of Workers, in order to ensure complementarity in their work. This streamlining of the institutional landscape will create valuable synergies and eliminate duplications, thereby improving the quality of discussions and policy outcomes.