Reject the Services E-card

18 March 2018

Reject the Services E-card

On 21st March we will concentrating first and foremost on our local elections, because while we may be the European Parliament group, we'll all be off to vote for our SP candidates and to celebrate their success in our own branches. Before I can do that, however, there's a vote in the European Parliament and the situation remains tense. In the Internal Market Committee the likely vote on the Services E-card, with which the Commission proposes to promote the free movement of services across borders, is evenly balanced. But the proposal is absurd, as evidenced by the fact that not only the unions, but also a large proportion of employers are opposed. The card will make things easier for abusive firms and self-employed people who lack proper qualifications to establish themselves throughout the EU. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the proposal will go straight into the recycling bin.

What are the issues? Such a card would be of unlimited duration and would state that the firm or self-employed worker has fulfilled all the conditions to qualify to practice the trade in question in their country of origin. The authorities in the country in which they wish to practice this trade would then have just one week to check whether this is true. A worker from a country with lower qualification standards would then merely have to show his or her E-Card, and they and their building firm go can go straight to work. The same goes for the cleaning sector and insurance, the sectors in which the Commission wants to work with the E-card initially. If you consider the still rampant corruption in countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, the E-Card will not be exactly reliable, yet you will have as little as a week to show that it is not. This is impossible according to the Dutch building trade employers' federation Bouwend Nederland (“Building the Netherlands”).

The European Commission sends out a constant stream of press releases demonstrating how “social” it has become. Equal pay for equal work in the same place, rights for the self-employed and so on and so forth. Yet the E-Card alone shows that the market remains the priority. Better to have more incompetent workers than interfere with this sacred precept. The Commission is achieving the opposite of its stated aims. As bona fide firms must compete with fraudsters, and well-qualified workers are forced out of employment by botch-job merchants, more and more people will conclude that the free movement of services poses a threat to their interests. That's why 21st March could be historic, not just because of the important referendum and local elections in the Netherlands, but because I have joined fellow MEPs from the social democratic group and the Greens in presenting a motion to reject, a motion which will be taken first. It's extremely close and tense, but this is one we could win.

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