Fair labour mobility: EC welcomes agreement on the European Labour Authority
Recently, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Commission's proposal to establish a European Labour Authority (ELA). President Juncker first announced a European Labour Authority in September 2017. This new EU authority will support fair labour mobility within the EU, allowing citizens and businesses to seize the opportunities offered by the single market while supporting cooperation between national authorities, including in preventing and tackling social fraud and abuse. President Juncker welcomed the agreement with the following statement:
“With the European Pillar of Social Rights, we anchored a strong social dimension in the future of the European Union. Today we take another big step forward in delivering on our commitment for a more social Europe. With 17 million Europeans today living or working in another EU Member State, it is high time for a European Labour Authority to support our mobile citizens, facilitate the work of our Member States and ensure fairness and trust in our Single Market. We have made a lot of progress on fairer rules for labour mobility in recent years. The new Authority will help us to make them work in practice.”
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen added:
"I have always said that we need clear, fair and enforceable rules on labour mobility. Today's agreement on the European Labour Authority is the cherry on the cake of a fair European labour market. It will serve the double mission of helping national authorities fight fraud and abuse and making mobility easy for citizens.
Today's agreement is the result of very constructive and speedy negotiations showing that Europe can decide and act swiftly to address problems. I would like to thank European Parliament rapporteur Jeroen Lenaers and the Romanian Presidency acting on behalf of the Council. This agreement should now be confirmed quickly to ensure that the European Labour Authority can start working this year and be fully operational rapidly. This is a crucial step for a more social and fair Europe."
The agreement will be submitted to the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) for approval. Once the Member States' Permanent Representatives confirm the agreement, it will be subject to a final vote by the plenary of the European Parliament.
President Juncker first 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."
About 17 million European citizens currently live or work in another Member State – twice as many as a decade ago. The EU has developed a substantial body of legislation regulating different aspects of mobility, including the posting of workers and social security coordination. However, effectively enforcing EU rules across the Member States requires structured cooperation and exchange between competent national authorities, as well as resources for common activities, such as organising joint inspections or training national staff to deal with cross-border cases.
To address these issues, the European Labour Authority (ELA) – proposed by the Commission in March 2018 - will perform the following tasks:
- support Member States in providing information and services to citizens and business;
- facilitate cooperation and exchange of information between Member States, and support them through concerted and joint inspections in order to fight abuse, fraud and undeclared work;
- perform a mediation role between Member States in cases of disputes.
The Labour Authority will have the responsibility to support the network of European Employment Services (EURES) and will take over and strengthen the activities of the European Platform to enhance cooperation in tackling undeclared work.
Its activities will relate to rules on labour mobility and the posting of workers, social security coordination and specific legislation in the road transport sector.
No new competences will be created at EU level, and Member States will remain fully in charge of enforcement of labour and social security rules. The added value of the Authority consists of the fact that it will facilitate cooperation between Member States, streamline existing structures and provide operational support, to ensure a more efficient enforcement of the rules, to the benefit of citizens, business and national authorities alike.
This streamlining exercise will also bring financial advantages, as the rationalisation of existing bodies at EU level will allow for savings. Furthermore, with the support of the Labour Authority, Member States will be able to recover social security contributions more efficiently and fully than is the case so far. Finally, by providing technical and logistical support the Authority will reduce the burden on Member States. In this regard, the financial gains are expected to compensate for a lot of the operational costs of the Authority, of which the estimated annual budget will be around 50 million euros. It will have approximately 140 members of staff, out of which 60 experts seconded by their Member States, including for the role of National Liaison Officers.
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