Study presentation: European Labour Authority

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Audience in VMA3 room during study presentation

On 2 April, the EESC Workers' Group hosted the presentation of a study titled 'How to design the European Labour Authority (ELA) to fight more efficiently social and wage dumping'. Oliver Röpke, President of the EESC Workers' Group, welcomed Professor Roberto Pedersini from the University of Milan, who presented his study on what would it take for the ELA to effectively tackle the various cross-border issues currently plaguing the European labour market. His presentation was followed by an interactive discussion with Georgi Pirinski, MEP, Carlos Trindade, EESC member and rapporteur of the ELA opinion, and Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary, and the audience.

The number of people living and working in a European Member State different from that of their origin has doubled over the past decade, reaching 17 million in 2017. Labour mobility is an essential part of European integration, but it can also be abused by illegally posting workers, undeclared work and social dumping. In the framework of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Commission has announced a European Labour Authority, which is set to start operating in 2019. This new authority aims to ensure the fair, simple and effective implementation of labour mobility rules, in order to protect the rights of workers, avoid social dumping and ensure good working conditions and fair competition.

Professor Pedersini explained that the ELA's aim is to reduce fraudulent use of workers whilst taking full advantage of labour mobility. It will do so by providing information about rights, obligations and services that can support workers in their mobility, whilst respecting the prerogative of the national authorities. Accordingly, it will mainly play an enabling role, supporting national labour authorities in their cross-border investigations and cooperation. He emphasised the importance of the involvement of social partners to ensure commitment to the implementation of labour legislation and fair competition. Trade unions have an especially crucial role to play, as they are in close contact with the workers that can bring a complaint to the ELA.

During the panel discussion, Georgi Pirinski, MEP for S&D and Shadow Rapporteur and member of the European Parliament negotiation team, explained that currently many cases of drastic violations of workers' rights are not tackled successfully, because national labour authorities cannot exercise cross-border control. The ELA could support these national authorities by facilitating joint investigations and even conciliation and mediation processes. He also emphasised the possibility for national trade unions to bring their complaints directly in front of the ELA, without having to go through their national labour authority.

In his intervention, Carlos Trindade, member of the EESC Workers' Group and Rapporteur of the EESC opinion on the proposal for establishing an ELA, quoted Commission President Juncker by saying: It seems absurd to have a Banking Authority to police banking standards, but no common Labour Authority for our Single Market. He also stressed the growth in xenophobia and nationalism as fruits of years of social dumping and inequality, highlighting the need for ELA's role. Referring to the EESC opinion on this topic, he called for a greater role for the social partners in the ELA's governance.

Finally, Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary, addressed the challenges in the development of the ELA. She said that initially there was resistance against a new European authority from both employers' organisations and Member States, and insufficient support for making the ELA a truly tripartite body. Some of these challenges were overcome, others were not. Eventually, trade unions did manage to cut out a role for the ELA in the coordination of social protection and in the enforcement of cross-border fines. It now remains to be seen how the European Labour Authority will be put into practice.

You can find the Study under the downloads category.


ELA presentation PowerPoint

Study - How to design the European Labour Authority to fight more efficiently social and wage dumping