European Labour Authority is so much hot air

16 April 2019

European Labour Authority is so much hot air

The European Parliament votes today on the establishment of a European Labour Authority, a new agency to monitor the application of labour laws in the EU. In the SP's view this is a bad idea, as SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains: “Brussels keeps coming up with false solutions for problems which are in reality a direct result of the free movement of labour. Exploitation of Spanish workers in the Netherlands won't be solved by a new agency in Cyprus or Slovakia. What's needed is for the capacity of national inspectorates to be sufficient for them to be able to do their work. Cooperation with other member states on cross-border issues can be handled via the existing European network, so there's no need for a new institution. This plan is just hot air.”

Competition over who can pay the lowest wages, known as ‘social dumping’, will have to be monitored by the new agency, in hosting which Cyprus and Slovakia have already announced their interest. “What would really help, however” says De Jong, “would be if inspectorates were given a free hand in monitoring on the workfloor, but just a few years ago the EU brought in legislation which limited such controls, ostensibly to avoid overburdening firms. Now they come out with this thoroughly inadequate proposal for a European Agency. This is simply going to lead to a lot of stuff and nonsense and very little action, none of which will benefit exploited workers one jot. Furthermore, this Agency will have as one of its tasks to encourage labour mobility between the member states, making it an instrument in the hands of the employers to facilitate cheap labour.”

The Agency is intended to succeed where a few years ago the European network against illegal practices in employment failed. De Jong, who at the time supported the establishment of the network, explains that he did so because “it's important that we manage to work well together on cross-border problems. The fact that the network proved inadequate to the task is regrettable. A logical response would therefore have been to strengthen it, but the establishment of an Agency will involve years of delay. Moreover, a disadvantage of the Agency is that the two sides of industry will be distanced from each other, while they were both involved in the existing network. In short, this is a real mess.”

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