At the Thursday debate during the EMPL Committee session, for the first time we could hear the official MEPs’ statements. It showed toward which direction the potential amendments are leaning.
Content of the debate wasn’t much of a surprise. Still, there is a significant division between the “old” and “new” European Union. The most radical supporters of limiting the posting of workers are MEPs from the Benelux and Scandinavian countries. In particular the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and recently also… Estonia. Some novelty is the discrepancy between the views among the French and German MEPs, even within the same fraction – some of them support the EC proposal and some of them decidedly oppose it.
Members participating in the debate referred to the proposal with a lot of emotions. Agnes Jongerius, socialist project’s rapporteur quite cynically called for putting the emotions aside and working on a joint solution. Significant part of the discussion referred to the problem whether the international road transport sector should be included into the scope of the revision. The diversity of the posting of workers was highlighted by MEP Czesław Hoc (ECR):
“We shall look at the practical impact which it (the proposal) will have on the particular countries, workers and their employers and find a solution which will work for all of them.”
Supporters of the Directive’s revision mostly pointed out the abnormalities related to the posting of workers. Most of them want not only the equal pay – some doubts referred also to the housing conditions of the posted worker. One of the MEPs stated that they live in containers. For majority of them, posting of workers is same as the permanent migration, bogus self-employment and undeclared work.
Rather, the ones opposing the project, especially from Czechia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland, highlighted that the proposal in any way will not solve the problems of the migrants’ illegal work because such problems are not related to the posting of workers – which is a mechanism fully legal and beneficial. Undeclared work is a problem much wider. Abnormalities linked to the posting of workers were addressed in a large scope through the Enforcement Directive. It is known that the posted workers are 0,2% of the EU labour market. Whereas it is estimated that as much as 70% of the migrating persons in the EU are in some moment engaged in the illegal work.
In addition, Danuta Jazłowiecka (EPP) pointed out the important issue regarding the proposed solutions which aim the protection of workers:
“What the Commission proposes means depriving worker from protection by putting him under the law, which he doesn’t know at all”
The critics say that the posted workers will not only receive better protection. Moreover, the proposal will enhance creating barriers at the internal market and will deprive them from the workplaces. In this context, MEP’s Kosma Złotowski’s (ECR) words are noteworthy:
“If the revision proposal’s aim is fighting the grey area, this is ‘shooting to a sparrow with a cannon’. The only group which will be harmed by the proposal are SME’s and their workers”.
However, the debate seemed much more substantial and less ‘ideological’ than analogical one, 4 years ago, on the Enforcement Directive. Hence, on March, 9th it will be a year from announcing the proposal. Hope that it is sufficient for the MEPs to deepen their knowledge on the posting of workers and replace stereotypes with a fact-based information.