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Posted workers directive compromise31st of December 2013
EU labour ministers have reached an agreement on new rules to regulate workers posted from one country to another, but the compromise has been deemed "less ambitious" than MEPs wanted.
The compromise text was agreed this month after 18 months of negotiations on the so-called posted workers directive, which is supposed to curtail abuses of European Union law that enable companies to move cheaper, foreign workers from one EU country to another, but which trades unions say prevent locals from getting work, is yet to be agreed in the European Parliament.
Five months before the European elections, the matter is highly sensitive.
The president of the employment committee in the Parliament, Pervenche Bérès, welcomed EU minister's compromise "given the difficult circumstances" but said the MEPs' report on the enforcement of the directive was more ambitious - a report which never reached the plenary, however, and was already very divisive during the committee vote.
Where the Council's text says only the direct subcontractor will be held liable, the Parliament's report wanted responsibility from the entire chain of subcontractors. The agreement by EU member states proposes that sanctions be mandatory only in the construction sector, whereas the MEPs had agreed on a text making them obligatory in all sectors, a demand also formulated by labour unions.
The posted workers directive will be an important issue in the upcoming European elections in May, especially in countries like France where the presence of foreign low cost workers is often perceived as a threat even though they represent less than 0.5% per cent of the workers.