Hungary, Poland challenge EU’s posted workers reform in court

Konrad Szymanski, Polish European affairs minister speaks to the press in Brussels, Belgium, 18 September 2018. [Olivier Hoslet/EPA/EFE]

Hungary and Poland said on Thursday (4 October) they have gone to the European Court of Justice to challenge tighter European Union rules on the employment of workers from low-pay EU states.

The issue of so-called “posted” workers has divided poor east and rich west EU states for years, with France leading efforts to tighten rules while Poland and Hungary have sought to block reforms.

A new EU directive, announced in July, would limit the right of citizens from poorer member states to work in richer ones on a low salary.

European Parliament votes in favour of the revision on posted workers

After 27 months of negotiations, MEPs approved a revision of the posted workers directive, an issue which symbolises divisions between East and West in the EU. EURACTIV.fr reports.

That reform “does not serve the protection of posted workers but in fact … is a tool for protectionism,” the Hungarian government said in statement on Thursday, adding that it had gone to the European Court of Justice to get the directive annulled.

Poland said that it had also challenged the reform in the ECJ.

“Poland has submitted its own complaint regarding the posted workers directive on 3 October. We underline its protectionist character. The assumptions of the Hungarian complaint are similar,” Polish state-run news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski as saying.

France wants to overhaul the system which allows “posted” workers to be employed in other EU countries on contracts that need only guarantee the host country’s minimum wage, and allow taxes and social charges to be paid in a worker’s home nation.

“Posted” workers make up only 1% of the EU workforce, with many employed in haulage and construction.

France, however, has complained that central and eastern Europe gains an unfair advantage from the “social dumping” of cheap labour, arguing that posting low-paid workers hurts local jobs and erodes labour protections in higher-wage member states like France and Germany.

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After lengthy negotiations, EU member states found a compromise on Monday (23 October) on the reform of posted workers, one of the pivotal issues for the EU reform pushed by Emmanuel Macron. EURACTIV France reports.

Hungary said on Thursday that the EU directive violated the freedom of provision of services set out in the bloc’s Treaty.

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