European Commission still sees market as more important than people

25 June 2017

European Commission still sees market as more important than people

This week I took part in trade union protests against new proposals from the European Commission which will only make social dumping easier. The issue is the introduction of the ‘e-card’. Enforcement of regulations on working conditions will be made more difficult, as inspectorates will be obliged to accept the e-card issued in the worker’s country of domicile. The e-card gives information on the individual’s skills and his or her social security status. Even if it’s clear to the inspectorate that there are flaws in this information, they can do nothing. This is absurd. We’ve had just about enough of exploitation and oppression.

Do you recall how the president of the European Commission wanted what he called a ‘triple-A’ status for the EU’s social policies? We were to have a real social pillar and there would be proposals to tighten up the posted workers’ directive. But eastern European countries in particular were unimpressed. They’d rather see their citizens exploited in other member states. In order to restore the balance somewhat, the Commission has therefore now come up with this infamous e-card. These same member states will be able simply to state that a plumber, to take an example, has all the necessary qualifications - and the Dutch labour inspectorate must simply swallow it.

All of this is a result of the Commission’s ‘market-think’. They find it irksome that the internal market in services has never really got off the ground. Only 1 in 25 architects works outside his or her own country in another member state. The figure for engineers is 1 in 20. As for building workers, by the way, you don’t hear a word about them from the Commission. Of course, according to Brussels there’s never enough internal market. That’s why they are limiting the powers of the member states to demand, for certain trades and professions, additional qualifications. This is the purpose of the e-card.

Despite all the Commission’s social talk, it’s clear that the market is still all that matters. The market as an end in itself: a plumber who simply wants to get a job near to his or her home interferes with the Commission’s dreams. This plumber must be able to work anywhere in the EU. Only then will the internal market function as it should. But, Mr Juncker, the market isn’t an end in itself. Human dignity must be the goal, human dignity, equality and solidarity. And there is no place for oppression and exploitation. So this e-card must go.

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