At the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council of 23 October in Luxembourg, EU Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs expressed their unanimous endorsement of the European Pillar of Social Rights, only two years after the idea was first mentioned by President Juncker and less than six months after it was presented. The Pillar will be proclaimed by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth, taking place on 17 November in Gothenburg. The Council also agreed on a general approach regarding the Commission's proposal to revise the rules on the posting of workers.
Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, in charge of Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, welcomed today's agreement and said: "This Council meeting marks an important step forward for social Europe. The unanimous endorsement of the European Pillar of Social Rights shows that all Member States are committed to striving for better working and living conditions throughout our Union, in light of challenges such as an ageing society, globalisation and digitalisation. As for the agreement on posting of workers - our position from the beginning has been that workers should earn the same pay for the same work in the same place. I am glad Member States broadly support this. This is fair for the posted workers, who deserve equal working conditions. And this is fair for local workers and employers who don't want to be undercut on wages. It shows that in Europe we can come together, sit around a table, have a dialogue and reach a fair and balanced agreement."
The political agreement on the posting of workers confirms the Commission's key principle of equal pay for equal work at the same place, which President Juncker had called for in his State of Union speech in September 2015 and in his Political Guidelines, setting out that posted workers will generally benefit from the same rules governing pay and working conditions as local workers.
Last week's agreement in the European Parliament's Employment Committee and today's agreement in the Council, confirm the strong political commitment from all actors to make our internal labour market fairer and its rules easier to enforce. The Commission thanks the Estonian Presidency for the great work done on this file. It now calls on the Parliament and the Council to seize this momentum and to swiftly continue the discussions with the Commission, to finalise the agreement and formally adopt the proposal.
Only two years ago, at his 2015 State of the Union address, President Juncker first mentioned the idea of a European Pillar of Social rights: "I will want to develop a European pillar of social rights, which takes account of the changing realities of Europe's societies and the world of work." A first outline of the Pillar was presented on 8 March 2016, followed by a broad consultation of Member States, EU institutions, social partners, civil society and citizens. On 26 April 2017, the Commission presented a final text, which contains 20 principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems, serving as a compass for a renewed process of convergence towards better working and living conditions among EU Member States.
For the Commission, creating a deeper and fairer internal market is an essential component of building a more social Europe. Reforming the existing rules on the posting of workers was one of the key initiatives to achieve this, as outlined in President Juncker's Political Guidelines of 2014: "I will ensure that the Posting of Workers Directive is strictly implemented, and I will initiate a targeted review of this Directive to ensure that social dumping has no place in the European Union. In our Union, the same work at the same place should be remunerated in the same manner". The President reiterated this commitment in his State of the Union on 13 September 2017: “In a Union of equals, there can be no second class workers. Workers should earn the same pay for the same work in the same place. This is why the Commission proposed new rules on posting of workers.”
The Commission put forward a formal proposal to amend the 1996 Posted Workers Directive on 8 March 2016. The proposal builds on the principle ‘equal pay for equal work at the same place' and sets out that posted workers will generally benefit from the same rules governing pay and working conditions as local workers. It complements the 2014 Enforcement Directive on Posted Workers, which introduces new instruments to fight fraud and abuse and to improve administrative cooperation between national authorities in charge of posting.
In 2018 the Commission will launch a European Labour Authority, in line with President Juncker's 2017 State of the Union and Letter of Intent. The aim is to strengthen cooperation between labour market authorities at all levels and better manage cross-border situations. The Commission will also propose other initiatives in support of fair mobility, including a European Social Security Number, to make social security rights more visible and (digitally) accessible.
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