Cyprus keen to settle posted worker debate but common position not expected next week.
Cyprus, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union’s Council of Ministers, is trying to inject fresh impetus into controversial proposals for improving the enforcement of the European Union’s law on workers posted abroad.
The EU’s 27 employment ministers, who gather in Brussels on 6-7 December, will hold talks aimed at reaching a consensus on how much flexibility national governments should have to define a ‘posted worker’ and to impose different monitoring requirements on companies.
The proposal, made by the European Commission on 21 March, sought to improve the implementation of the 1996 posting of workers directive, which governs those who work in a different member state from their own for a limited period.
A common position on the draft law is not expected next week. Officials from Cyprus, who have been working on the proposed legislation since member states raised concerns before the summer, want further input from ministers on the most contentious issues.
The member states are divided on whether the proposal should, as proposed by the Commission, include a common EU list containing the monitoring and administrative measures that governments can impose on companies. Some countries believe that a list provides legal certainty; others believe that it would be too restrictive and would do little to improve the implementation of the law.
Members of the European Parliament are also wrestling with the same piece of draft legislation and are similarly divided. A report by Danuta Jazlowiecka, a Polish centre-right MEP, was discussed in the European Parliament’s employment and social affairs committee for the first time yesterday (28 November).
Jazlowiecka favours a list of common measures “to guarantee a legal clarity”, but has also recommended substantial changes to the Commission’s proposal. She is likely to encounter some opposition as MEPs discuss the issue in the coming weeks.
Employment ministers will also discuss at their Council meeting a proposal on the future of the European globalisation adjustment fund, which provides support for redundant workers, as well as a Commission proposal to step up the European Union Programme for Social Change and Innovation. The Commission has proposed an increase in funding of up to 10%. Ministers will look at the latest discussions within the European Parliament, but are unlikely to come to any general approach at this stage.
They will also review work on a proposal for implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. On this piece of legislation, the Parliament is only consulted, and does not have the power to approve, change or block. But, again, ministers are not yet expected to reach a firm position.
Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on a report on combating violence against women and a declaration on the European year on active ageing and solidarity between generations. The rest of the meeting will be taken up with non-legislative activities. Ministers will debate the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy in the field of employment and social policy; they will look at the start of the second European Semester for its employment and social policies; and the European Commission will present its 2013 annual growth survey and joint employment report.