CESI Presidium Resolution on the European Commission’s Social Fairness Package

At its meeting today, the Presidium of CESI adopted a resolution in response to the Social Fairness Package, a set of two proposals issued on March 13 by the European Commission on a ‘Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed’ and a ‘Regulation on a new European Labour Authority’. In its resolution, the Presidium welcomes many of the ideas put forward in the Package but also expresses criticism and suggests amendments on a number of important points.

With regards to the proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed, the Presidium welcomes in particular:

• a definition of the term ‘worker’ based on existing case law of the Court of Justice of the EU as a “natural person who for a certain period of time performs services for and under the direction of another person in return for remuneration”, which allows to grasp all those in de facto employment relationships, including in bogus self-employment, in the scope of the initiative;

• an extension of basic aspects of access to social protection to “all workers, regardless of the type of their employment relationship” in terms of mandatory formal, effective and adequate coverage;

• an accumulation, preservation and transferability of social security entitlements “across all types of employment statuses” and all economic sectors; and

• greater transparency towards workers on the applicable conditions and rules of social security.

At the same time, the Presidium notes the legal nature of the proposal -a non-binding recommendation- as a major drawback: A binding directive would have been preferred, and legally possible under the Treaties. The Presidium questions whether proposed enforcement tools such as the European Semester will be sufficiently strong to bring about changes in the Member States. To incentivise Member States to implement the Recommendation, the Presidium calls on the European Commission to give flesh to its proposal to support the objectives of the text with EU funding.

The proposal foresees an evaluation on the effectiveness of the adopted text by the European Commission after three years with the possibility for the European Commission to decide on “making further proposals”: The Presidium of CESI hopes that this backdoor for a Directive yet to come, together with EU-level financial incentives, will push Member States to implement an ambitious Council recommendation.

With regards to the proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Labour Authority, the Presidium welcomes the objectives of a new authority to:

• facilitate access for individuals and employers to information on their rights and obligations as well as to relevant services;

• support cooperation between Member States in the cross-border enforcement of relevant EU law and legislation, including facilitating joint labour inspections; and

• mediate and facilitate a solution in cases of cross-border disputes between national authorities or labour market disruptions.

The Presidium also notes that the general mission of the European Labour Authority should be clear and precise and avoid duplications with existing structures at the European and national levels.

A priority for the Presidium refers to a proposal of an advisory stakeholder group to the Management Board and Executive Director of the new European Labour Authority composed of “six representatives of Union-level social partners equally representing trade unions and employer’s organisations.” The Presidium strongly urges that the stakeholder group is enlarged significantly to make space for an adequate representation of recognised EU sectoral social partners, including those that are not part of the cross-sector EU social partners. All workers count, all workers should be represented.

The full resolution of the Presidium is available here.