PES Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs together with representatives from PES parties that are currently in opposition met ahead of the EPSCO Council on 11 December in Brussels to discuss fair workers’ mobility in Europe.
The issue has recently been taken up by populists across Europe who want to restrict the right to free movement of people on grounds of alleged social dumping caused by mobile workers in the EU. PES Ministers today decisively rejected these notions and adopted a declaration stipulating principles and actions to be taken to better protect workers in Europe. They are determined that the solution is not to contest workers freedom of movement. Intra-EU mobility has benefitted individuals, economies and societies as a whole. Ministers are committed to make the system more solid and more protective. Free movement rights have to go hand-in-hand with strong equal treatment rights to combat fraud and exploitation of all EU workers.
Nicolas Schmit, Chairperson of the PES Social and Employment Ministers Network, said: "It is not workers enjoying their fundamental right of movement, but regulatory gaps that can result in deteriorating social and labour standards. The freedom of movement of workers is a core value of EU citizenship and a fundamental right for all EU citizens. Yet, there are loopholes in the legal framework allowing unscrupulous employers to evade equal treatment and to employ foreign workers under worse working standards than would apply to locals. It is thus a top priority for us to fight social dumping by fully implementing the new posting of workers enforcement directive and by reinforcing it. Loopholes have to be closed and high social and labour standards that apply to both, mobile and national workers alike, have to be established".
Ministers also discussed and reiterated their continuous commitment to the principle of gender equality, including the protection of rights relating to maternity and parental leave.
Nicolas Schmit concluded: "The PES stands for a union of equality, may it be in terms of workers’ rights, gender balance or in the fight against discrimination. The principle of equality must remain at the heart of what it means to be a European Citizen".
Participants at the meeting were:
Jörg Asmussen, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Germany
Lodewijk Asscher, Minister of Social Affairs, the Netherlands
Lauri Ihalainen, Minister of Labour, Finland
Ylva Johansson, Minister for Labour Market, Sweden
Agnes Jongerius, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, S&D Group
Anja Kopač Mrak, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Slovenia
Michaela Marksová-Tominová, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Czech Republic
Mirando Mrsi, Minister for Labour and Pension System, Croatia
Ged Nash, Minister for Business and Employment, Ireland
Branislav Ondruš, State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Slovakia
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality, Ireland
Yonnec Polet, PES Deputy Secretary General
Giuliano Poletti, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Italy
François Rebsamen, Minister for Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue, France
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, UK
Pernilla Baralt, State Secretary to the Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Sweden
Mari Luz Rodríguez, PSOE Employment Secretary, Spain
Nicolas Schmit, Minister for Labour, Employment, Social and Solidarity Economy, Luxembourg
Jutta Steinruck, S&D Coordinator in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, S&D Group
For further news on the EPSCO agenda see also the press release by PES Women.