On the one hand, the report achieves some “damage control”. It tries to ensure that national control measures in the Member States where the enforcement is the most advanced will not be jeopardised by internal market principles. It also introduces a system of joint and several liability in subcontracting chains. On the other hand, the report’s lack of ambition means that few improvements will take place in those Member States where exploitation of posted workers is the most striking. In particular, the report promotes weak rules on the definitions of posting and has not completely ruled out the possibility of a return to country of origin principle for workers falling outside the scope of the Directive.
“This does not bode well for social Europe” said Veronica Nilsson, Confederal Secretary of the ETUC. “I expected EMPL to vote in favour of strong rules to protect posted workers, but the path they have chosen is tortuous.”
The aim of the Enforcement Directive is to prevent abuse and circumvention of the Posting of Workers Directive. Even the Commission recognises that posted workers are often exploited and left without payment of their wages or part of their wages. However, it is unclear to which extent today’s vote could help those workers.
The most worrying outcome is that due to an unexpected alliance between political groups, excluding the S&D and GUE groups, the EPP Rapporteur has obtained a mandate to negotiate a compromise with the upcoming Lithuanian Presidency. Because of the lack of a coherent position on this Directive, the ETUC fears that those trilogue discussions will lead to an unacceptable outcome.
“Fair competition and the protection of posted workers are issues of direct concern to millions of workers. They deserve better than a hastily cobbled together deal made behind closed doors. It does not augur well if the trilogue start with a Parliament that has not even solved its ideological divisions” Veronica Nilsson added.