On 17 November 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights was proclaimed at the Social Summit in Gothenburg. During the coming days, the European Parliament will have to decide on several legal acts, which could significantly contribute to a more social Europe.
When a year ago, the European Pillar of Social Rights, which is built upon 20 principles, was proclaimed, the AK pointed out that it should not just consist of “hot air” but that the pillar had to be filled with concrete contents. And indeed, this year, the Commission has submitted important proposals along the Social Pillar: in December 2017 already, it presented the proposal on the Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions. This was followed in March 2018 by the proposal on a European Labour Authority, which is of particular importance in the fight against wage and social dumping. However, so far, other plans, announced by the Commission, in particular a proposal on a European Social Insurance Number, have not yet materialised. Whether these legal acts will actually be adopted, will contributing to the success or failure of the social pillar.
ECJ ruling Čepelnik shows necessity of a Labour Authority
However, this week’s ruling in the Čepelnik case makes once again clear the necessity of a European Labour Authority. In its judgement, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the measures provided for in the Austrian law against wage and social dumping - a suspension of payments and withholding a security to secure a possible monetary fine - are not compatible with EU law. In doing so, the ECJ has once more put the freedom to provide services ahead of the enforcement of social rights. Hence, an effective EU Labour Authority, which - as the Chamber of Labour is stressing in the light of the judgement - has to play the role of a "European arbitrator", becomes even more urgent.
Important Votes in the upcoming week in the European Parliament
The Employment Committee of the EU Parliament is scheduled to vote on the European Labour Authority early next week (19/20 November 2018). How far-reaching the competences of the new authority will be, for instance whether it will have an effective dispute settlement mechanism for its disposal, is currently still debated between EP’s Rapporteur and Shadows. Next week, besides the Labour Authority there are further important decisions on the Employment Committee’s agenda: The vote on the Regulation on the coordination of social security systems (Regulation 883) will take place, as well as on the 3rd Tranche Revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive.
Success for transparent working conditions in the European Parliament
The negotiations in respect of the Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions have made good progress: just a month ago, on 18 October 2018, the Employment Committee had voted on the report regarding this dossier, which develops the Commission proposal in the interest of workers and which provides for fundamental information and minimum rights, in particular also for workers in precarious employment. Fortunately, on Thursday, 15 November 2018, the plenary of the European Parliament confirmed the report with a clear majority of 398 votes; 208 MEP voted against. Based on this outcome, the trilogue negotiations with the Council can start at last. The vote had become necessary because Conservative forces (EPP & ECR) had opposed the worker-friendly compromise of the Employment Committee. From the workers’ point of view this is a very positive decision, which clears the way for fair and transparent working conditions, in particular for workers in precarious employment, all over Europe.