CESI on a new European Labour Authority and a European Social Security Number

On January 5, CESI issued statements to the European Commission on the occasion of ad-hoc EU social partner consultations on a possible creation of a new European Labour Authority (ELA) and European Social Security Number (ESSN). According to CESI, both an ELA as well as an ESSN could contribute to fairer and more rule-based labour mobility in the EU, a matter which CESI has advocated for long.

As initiatives featured in the 2018 work programme of the European Commission, legislative proposals could follow this spring on an ELA “to strengthen cooperation between labour market authorities at all levels and better manage cross-border situations” and on an ESSN to “facilitate the identification of persons across borders for the purposes of social security coordination and a quick and accurate verification of their social security insurance coverage status.”

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “CESI generally agrees with the European Commission on a potential added value of a new European Labour Authority and a European Social Security Number. For several years CESI has advocated an initiative against social dumping and exploitation of mobile workers beyond the limited revisions of the posting of workers directive and the social security coordination regulations.”

In its consultation response statements, CESI reiterated its call for an overarching framework for voluntary, fair labour mobility, based on a full implementation, respect and enforcement of applicable and existing legislation.

In this context, an ELA should become a coordinative institution to promote and manage possible European-level synergies among national labour inspectorates, without becoming involved in national-level competences, as well as a supervisory authority to manage and oversee fair and rule-based mobile and cross-border work in the EU, endowed with certain controlling powers. According to Klaus Heeger, “a European Labour Authority should reflect the spirit of directive 2014/54 which notes the importance of ‘a better and more uniform application of the substantive rules governing the freedom of movement of workers under Article 45 TFEU and under regulation 492/2011.’”

In line with article 3 of directive 2014/54, CESI has also proposed that part of the efforts of an ELA should be to further help finance, institutionalise and operationalise a role for trade unions and social partners to provide information and counselling services to mobile workers before their departure as well as when they arrive in their country of destination. Klaus Heeger stressed: “Discrimination as well as abusive and unfair employment conditions and practices of mobile workers in host countries are a frequently occurring phenomenon and this often goes hand in hand with an improper application or lacking enforcement of the applicable national or European employment and social legislations. More could be done to support trade unions in their efforts to play their role in facilitating fair labour mobility.”

Given the wide variety of national personal identification and social security numbers as well as a mix of paper and paperless electronic communication methods and systems in and among national authorities, an ESSN accompanying an ELA could help individuals and social security institutions identify, prove and determine social security purposes across borders and throughout careers. Klaus Heeger noted: “Regardless of the type of work and the place of work, benefits and entitlements of workers should be fully traceable. Access to information should not end at borders. ”

CESI’s full consultations statements can be accessed here (ELA) and here (ESSN). Further information about the European Commission’s plans on an ELA and ESSN are available on the European Commission’s website.