European Parliament strengthens European social pillar

unemployment_jobs_employment_CREDIT[Tax Credits_Flickr] [Tax Credits/Flickr]

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.

European measures on social issues have gained momentum. They now include the directive on the posting of workers, the reform of labour law for hauliers, the debate over a minimum wage, the “überisation” of work and harmonisation of the social security systems.

This is why, in his State of the Union Address in September 2017, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wanted to “make sure that all EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way by a new European inspection and enforcement body.”

“It is absurd to have a banking authority to police banking standards but no common labour authority for ensuring fairness in our single market. We will create such an authority.”

This promise was kept in March 2018, when the Commissioner for Employment Marianne Thyssen, submitted her proposal to establish a European Labour Authority (ELA).

Its objective is to coordinate the measures of national authorities and to improve compliance with European rules concerning workers’ mobility. It will also aim to facilitate workers’ and businesses’ access to information about their rights and obligations and will act as a mediator in disputes between states.

Its location has not yet been decided but the agency will have a permanent structure and employ more than 140 people, with an annual budget of €50 million.

On 20 November, the report on the European Labour Authority was adopted by the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL).

“The establishment of this Authority is a step forward in the construction of a more social Europe,” stated Christine Revault d’Allonnes-Bonnefoy, an MEP from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), in a statement on 20 November.

“The European Union already has a competition watchdog and there is no reason why there should not also be a ‘social watchdog’ to implement social rights in the internal market,” the statement continued.

“The member states now have to take responsibility and adopt positions to arrive at a final text as soon as possible so that the European Authority is fully operational in 2019, as is desired by the European Parliament,” the MEP added.

Currently, more than 17 million Europeans work in a member state other than their home country. This represents more than twice the number of such workers ten years ago, according to statistics from the European Commission.

Social security

Also on 20 November, a report on the coordination of social security systems by Guillaume Balas, MEP from the “Génération.s” party (S&D), was adopted by the same parliamentary committee.

The report notably advocates extending rights to export unemployment benefits from three to six months for a person seeking employment in a different member state to their home country.

Moreover, MEPs in the EMPL committee would like cross-border workers to choose their social security cover system, regardless of whether it is in the country where they work or the one where they live.

This report could therefore prevent situations such as that in Austria, where, from January, the government would like to index foreign workers’ family benefits to the standard of living in their country of origin.

“All this work would not have been possible if there had not been a strong convergence of left-wing forces, indeed, it is through the alliance between the ecologists and the left […] that we can be strong,” Guillaume Balas said following the adoption of his report.

“It’s a very important lesson for the future: no change is possible in Europe without an alliance on the part of all of the progressive forces, including from the left and ecologists, this is the message I’m sending and we will have to promote this during this European election campaign.”

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