Ladies and gentlemen,

I am grateful for the opportunity to conclude today's conference on a social agenda for transport.

Transport is a fundamental component of the European single market – it is vital for the free movement of persons, services and goods on which the European Union is based.

The transport sector has a lot to gain from the EU's internal market.

For decades the internal market has helped boost growth and jobs across the European Union. So this Commission continues to promote and develop the internal market and the free movement that comes along with it.

But at the same time we must ensure that free movement is fair – and that it is perceived this way.

This is particularly true for all transport sectors, which operate in a highly competitive transnational context. Fierce competition at EU and global level can lead to complex business models and new forms of employment relationships.

This leads to pressure on the working conditions of the workers concerned. It can put pressure on workers to achieve delivery times, leading to excessive working times and the risk of fatigue. Moreover, it can lead to downward pressure on wages and complex employment relationships. This raises issues regarding health and safety, labour law, social security and bogus self-employment, fraud and abuse.

It is therefore essential that we develop a social dimension in transport policy – and I believe we took a first step forward today.

Building the modern, competitive and fair transport sector of tomorrow also requires investment in skills.

Initial - and - continuous skills-development is an essential part of a decent work environment as well as a key driver of competitiveness and adaptability. The attractiveness your sector as a modern workplace which will appeal to all – young and old, men and women - depends upon this. So, I am particularly pleased that today the conference has also focussed upon these themes.

Growth is slowly returning to Europe, and unemployment and youth unemployment is gradually going down. In the last year, 520,000 fewer young people were unemployed. But today, 1 in 5 young job seekers still cannot find a job and half of all unemployed, are long-term unemployed. We must do more.

Today, you have shared your thoughts and ideas on how to prepare for the transport workforce of the future. I understand you also highlighted how apprenticeships can support better working and learning conditions. I am firmly convinced that apprenticeships should be more widespread in Europe as a quality springboard to work. This is why I am prioritising the expansion of a European Alliance for Apprenticeships in order to increase their supply, quality and attractiveness. I encourage you to take up this call in transport.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a big share of companies and employees in the transport sector are active in several Member States, EU level policy has a huge impact on the sector. For this reason European social dialogue in the transport sectors is particularly important.

Social dialogue has contributed to the improvement of the working conditions in the transport sector in the past. To give a recent example, in December 2014 we saw the adoption by the Council of the Directive implementing the EU social partner agreement from the inland waterways sector.

Another success is the proposal for a Directive on the inclusion of seafarers in several labour law Directives. The EU social partners in the maritime sector played a very important role in the discussions between the co-legislators. It looks like the proposal will be adopted in the very near future now that the trialogues between the EU institutions have been successful.

And we have prospects for further success.

For the first time ever, the social partners in Road Transport jointly think about negotiating an agreement. This is a positive sign that the partnership has deepened and the Commission is very much in favour of such negotiations.

I am also aware that the social partners in this sector are discussing other important issues which could provide an input to the future road package to be presented by the Commission in 2016.

I noted that several studies have been launched, including one on atypical employment in civil aviation. I would like to encourage the social partners to follow-up on this study with further joint work on new forms of employment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At today's conference you have provided hands-on input. Your expertise on what happens on the ground, on what works and what doesn't, is crucial for the Commission's policy work. Your practical experience helps to identify the actual problems and find the right solutions.

That is why this Commission attaches particular importance to social dialogue. And we are not sticking to words – on the 5th of March, President Juncker launched a new start for social dialogue at a high level conference attended by the leaders of the European and national social partners and of the EU institutions.

The conference today was another opportunity for us to deliver on this commitment. Your input will feed into our work on developing a social agenda for the transport sector.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today's conference has given us food for thought – and for action. As you know, we are preparing a Mobility Package by the end of this year.

The idea behind this Package brings me back to my introduction: we want to continue to facilitate labour mobility while making sure that it happens in a fair way.

I know that there are many concerns about labour mobility, also in the transport sector. Are the current rules fair for all: for workers and for businesses? Are the rules clear?

As Commission we want to listen to your concerns. We must get to the root of the issues and above all we must find concrete solutions.

My first priority is to objectively analyse mobility flows and their consequences for national labour markets and social security systems. We need a clear picture of the real situation, which is based on facts and figures.

My second priority is to support Member States' authorities in preventing errors, abuse and fraud. This is a shared responsibility of all Member States and EU Institutions and we are working on it together.

And finally, we need to look at the current rules and see if there is a need to change them.

The Labour Mobility Package will include a revision of the rules on social security coordination, to ensure they continue to be fit for purpose. We will also include a targeted review of the Posting of Workers Directive, to assess if any adjustments are needed, in particular to close possible loopholes allowing for abusive practices or social dumping. The discussion that Violetta Bulc and I have had with many of you on the application of the German minimum wage in the transport sector could suggest that further work ought to be done in order to clarify the impact and limits of the posting Directive in relation to the transport sector.

The Commission will take a decision on how to proceed as regards the Posting of Workers Directive at the end of the year. In the meantime, we are conducting a thorough impact assessment on possible changes to the Social Security Coordination Regulation to ensure that we understand the effects of any change to the current rules, and we are eager to listen to the ideas and the proposals of different stakeholders. The points that you have raised today are also part of this intelligence gathering.

Furthermore, I am looking forward to working closely with Commissioner Bulc on the mobility package as well as on the preparation of the Commission’s Road and Aviation packages. We need to work towards sustainable transport, which means we have to simultaneously aim at competitiveness and fairness.

I take this opportunity also to thank Violetta Bulc and our respective services for the good cooperation in preparing today's conference.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The dialogue on social affairs in technically dominated areas can be a challenging endeavour. There will be no magic solutions, but today I believe we paved the way for a deeper discussion. With goodwill and commitment we must strive for a fair and competitive transport sector in a thriving internal market. From my side I am committed to pursue the discussion and look for solutions.

I thank you for your attention and valuable input today.