Political agreement on a new European Labour Authority

Following intensive discussions, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission have finalised trilogue negotiations concerning the establishment of a new European Labour Authority. A guest commentary by Terry Reintke, MEP from Germany and shadow rapporteur on the European Labour Authority for the Greens group in the European Parliament.

I welcome the outcome of these negotiations and am glad that the European Union is becoming somewhat more social. The European Labour Authority will close a gap in the world of European labour mobility, and will protect cross-border workers from exploitation by criminal networks.

These are the main characteristics of the new European Labour Authority:

The European Labour Authority aims to support the member states in the application and implementation of EU law in the area of worker labour mobility. Its main duty will be to act in situations in which the smooth operation of the Single Market is at risk. The dangers represented by shell companies, fraudulent business practices and bogus self-employment for the Single Market are listed below:

The European Labour Authority shall not only coordinate joint and concerted inspections between the member states – it shall also be able to launch them. The social partners in the member states have the right to report both cases of known or suspected illegal practices to the European Labour Authority.

The European Labour Authority’s Management Board is composed of two representatives of the Commission, one representative from each member state and one expert nominated by the European Parliament.

In addition, there will be a Stakeholder Group composed of ten representatives of the social partners as well as two members of the European Commission. Its main duty will be to provide expert advice to the Authority.

The EURES Coordination Office will be integrated into the European Labour Authority, but not the EURES cross-border partnership services. The Secretariat of the European Platform against Undeclared Work will migrate to the European Labour Authority, although the Platform itself shall remain as such.

The European Labour Authority is not intended to become an advisory centre for individuals. On this point, the EURES cross-border partnerships do valuable work, which is why their future funding must be secured.

At the same time, I must admit that the concrete set-up of the new authority does not meet my personal expectations. These were the most important concessions that the European Parliament had to make during the trilogue negotiations:

Member states that do not want to participate in the concerted or joint inspections do not have to provide a justification for their position, nor do they have to make a proposal as to how to solve the problem differently.

The European Labour Authority will not be granted the power to make political recommendations to the Commission nor to demand the implementation of proceedings in the event of contract breaches.

No social partners will be represented on the European Labour Authority’s Management Board.

All in all, the new European Labour Authority can help make it more difficult for shell companies, bogus self-employment and other fraudulent business models to circumvent the confusing regulations of the individual EU member states. I believe in the close cooperation with trade unions in order to fight dubious dealings under the veneer of labour mobility.

Picture: Terry Reintke © CESI Cornelis Gollhardt 2019