European Parliament brings ‘social Europe’ a step forward

17 million Europeans work in a different member state to their country of origin. [European Youth Forum]

EU social security coordination will make it easier for EU citizens looking for work to seek employment in another member state. EURACTIV France reports.

Europeans’ job search in other member states will be made easier. Until now, French citizens wanting to find employment in another member state could only receive employment benefits for three months.

With the adoption of the report on the coordination of social security systems in Strasbourg on Tuesday (11 December), MEPs extended the period of rights’ portability to six months.

This could even be extended by the member states to beyond the minimum of six months – to the whole period of unemployment entitlements. While this provision helps jobseekers’ mobility within the EU, it was contested by a section of the European right-wing, who criticised a potential windfall effect for the unemployed.

A French citizen seeking work in a European country where the cost of living is cheaper would therefore be better off than a French person looking for a job in France. Despite the reservations expressed, the provision was adopted by a comfortable majority by MEPs in the plenary vote (345 votes in favour, 287 against and 24 abstentions).

European Parliament strengthens European social pillar

The European Parliament has been working hard on the EU’s social policy, voting in favour of establishing a “European social watchdog” and coordinating social security systems on 20 November. EURACTIV France reports.

“False accusations, such as that of social tourism, have long served as an excuse for the refusal to recognise identical social rights or the refusal of any coordination effort. This can’t happen again,” said the French rapporteur Guillaume Balas from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D).

“Refusing the negotiating mandate today amounted to burying the report and burying the major advances for European workers’ rights. I am pleased that the union of progressives has allowed a majority to be obtained in favour of ‘social Europe’, of a Europe of equality,” stated Balas.

Cross-border workers

Another step forward laid down in the text is that cross-border workers will be able to freely choose their social security affiliation system, whether it is in the country where they work or the country where they reside.

Guillaume Balas’ report should also provide a framework to more effectively fight against fraud in the posting of workers. The report aims to better identify so-called “letterbox” companies by ensuring that workers are registered with a social security system in the member state where they carry out their main occupation.

Also on 11 December, MEPs adopted a text on creating the European Labour Authority, another measure that supports “social Europe.” This new kind of European watchdog will be responsible for applying social rights on the internal market and could be operational from 2019, if the member states quickly reach agreement on the matter.

Commission wants EU Labour Authority to open by 2019

The European Commission wants to set up a new EU agency to oversee cross-border labour disputes and manage the growing number of people who travel within the bloc for work. The agency would receive a budget of €50 million and open before the current Commission’s term ends next year.

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