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Towards fairer labour mobility in Europe: The European Labour Authority must have the power to make a difference in practice  

The establishment of a European Labour Authority is a positive step towards fairer cross-border labour mobility in Europe, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) estimates in an opinion drafted by Doris Kampus (AT/PES), Styria's regional minister for social affairs, work and integration. However, the assembly of EU's cities and regions points out the need for a better coordination of national penalties and fines to prevent infringements of EU legislation in the area of free movement of employees, the posting of workers and the coordination of the social security systems.

The opinion , which was adopted on Tuesday 9 October, highlights that the establishment of the European Labour Authority, as proposed by the European Commission , should aim to strengthen the basic freedoms of the single market and assist Member States in combating irregularities in the field of free movement of workers and services.

"Abusive use of these freedoms not only weakens the cohesion of the EU, but also leads to considerable social, economic and budgetary constraints being placed on regions, cities and municipalities, local companies and on citizens themselves. The European Labour Authority, in supporting national authorities, should provide more clarity for the enforcement of rules in cross-border situations where national authorities currently come up against territorial jurisdictional limitations. However, its impact might remain limited without appropriate enforcement mechanisms that have a dissuasive preventive function against infringements", rapporteur Doris Kampus explains.

To dissuade from non-compliance and improve the quality of mobility, the Committee suggests to facilitate cross-border enforcement procedures of national sanctions and to introduce greater transparency and consistency in their implementation in a cross-border context. The nature of concerted and joint inspections of national competent authorities should also be considerably enhanced in order to improve enforceability of results.

These concerns are shared in the European Parliament's draft report . Speaking at the CoR plenary session, European Parliament rapporteur Jeroen Lenaers (NL/EPP) said: "Europe must ensure that free mobility also means fair mobility, that workers’ rights are guaranteed and protected throughout the EU, that unfair competition between workers and companies is prevented and that social fraud and the abuse of free movement are tackled. The European Labour Authority must have clearly defined tasks and competences to apply the rules and make an actual difference in practice."

As the regional and local level is directly affected by irregularities in matters of cross-border labour mobility and has the closest contact with job seekers and employers, regions and cities are requesting to be appropriately represented through CoR on the European Labour Authority's management board. In addition to that, close involvement of the social partners should be ensured through sectoral and regional representation in the stakeholders' group.

Finally, the Committee underlines the broad spectrum of national, regional and local practices and legal situations in Europe and recalls that the subsidiarity principle and national competences in labour and social policy matters must be duly respected, avoiding duplication of existing structures.

Background information:

Cross-border labour mobility in Europe has notably increased in recent years. In 2017, 17 million European citizens lived or worked in a Member State other than that of their nationality. This figure almost doubled compared to a decade ago. Postings have increased by 68% from 2010 to 2.3 million in 2016. There are 1.4 million EU citizens commuting to work in another Member State. There are also over 2 million workers in the road transport sector who cross intra-EU borders on a daily basis to transport goods or passengers.

The European Labour Authority, which was announced by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the EU speech in 2017, should be established and functional in 2019 and reach its full operational capacity by 2023. Ensuring fair labour mobility in Europe is a key element of the European Pillar of Social Rights.


Lauri Ouvinen

Tel. +32 22822063