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Conference on posting of workers: strengthening the social dimension of the Single Market


Taking part in the Commission conference on posting of workers and fundamental social rights, in Brussels, Commissioner László Andor stressed that future legislative proposals in the field will aim to "set the right conditions for better implementation and enforcement of the posting of workers directive, to facilitate the provision of cross-border services and to protect the rights of posted workers".

As announced in the Single Market Act last year, the European Commission will present two legislative proposals by the end of 2011 to improve the enforcement of the legislation on posting of workers and to clarify the extent to which trade unions may use the right to strike in the case of cross-border operations. The conference being held by the Commission today and tomorrow will help prepare these proposals by collecting and exchanging the views and ideas of all stakeholders.

Mr Andor launched the discussion by explaining that posting of workers is essential to fill skills and labour shortages, as well as for the functioning of several sectors, such as construction, agriculture and transport saying "To increase the effectiveness of the rules applicable, we need to address the problems and difficulties that arise in its implementation, application and enforcement on the ground".

The European Court of Justice jurisprudence in the cases Laval/Viking/Rüffert and Commission vs. Luxembourg have also fuelled an intensive political debate among stakeholders. These judgments have created, among some, a perception that the right to strike or to industrial action to defend workers' rights is discouraged when cross-border provision of services is involved. "In my view, such a conflict does not exist. And this is what we want to clarify in the new regulation that the Commission will put forward", Mr Andor said.

A posted worker    is employed in one EU country but sent by their employer on a temporary basis to carry out work in another EU country. Each year, around one million workers are posted in the EU. Figures from 2009 indicate that the main sending countries are Poland, France and Germany whereas the most important countries of destination are Germany, France and Belgium.