The European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the European Commission's efforts to set up transparent and harmonised conditions of admission for this group of temporarily seconded workers
However, the EESC has serious concerns about some of the content of the proposal for a directive and about the way the European Commission communicated with the European social partners prior to its publication.
The Committee finds it regrettable that Article 79 TFEU was chosen as the sole legal basis for the directive, given that it includes important provisions concerning the position of managers, specialists and graduate trainees under employment law and will therefore have a significant impact on Member States' labour markets. The social partners should therefore be formally consulted under Article 154 TFEU on an initiative of this kind before the Commission distributes a specific proposal for a directive.
The proposal for a directive, which lays down conditions of entry for third-country nationals and their families in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer, relates not only to a relatively small group of managers but also to specialists and graduate trainees; in the Committee's view, a directive focusing only on managers would do more justice to the particular position and needs of this group of people. It is even more important, however, for the principle of equality and equal treatment to apply to all employees covered by the directive with regard to salary and working conditions, and for it to be ensured that the directive is not abused.
The EESC therefore suggests that intra-corporate transferees should be given equal treatment with employees in the host country or the permanent staff not only in terms of salary but with regard to all conditions of employment.
The proposal has been published in the middle of the biggest financial and economic crisis in EU history. On the other hand and in line with the last Joint Employment Report (2010), the EESC takes into account the fact that certain Member States and employment categories continue to experience a shortage of labour.
The employees in question are transferred from third countries where wages and levels of social protection are considerably lower than in the EU. It is therefore necessary to monitor compliance with the directive effectively, whilst avoiding imposing unnecessary bureaucratic burdens on businesses.
In the EESC's view, the definitions of "manager", "specialist" and "graduate trainee" should be made clearer, in order to give the companies concerned greater legal certainty and also to ensure that they do not go beyond the obligations set out under GATS and bilateral agreements with third countries. The definitions should be phrased such that they cover exactly the three categories of highly skilled employees whose transfers the directive is intended to regulate.
The EESC believes that, if the directive meets these requirements, it could indeed help to facilitate the intra-corporate transfer of know-how into the EU and to improve the EU's competitiveness.