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Strengthen the European labour watchdog to ensure protection of all workers, urge S&Ds

Date

15 Jan 2024

Sections

Social Europe & Jobs

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the European Labour Authority, also known as ELA, it is clear that this agency needs to be strengthened to ensure genuine protection of all workers in the European Union, third-country nationals included, urge the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

About 13.5 million EU citizens live or work in another member state, which is twice as many as a decade ago, and mobility within the EU continues to grow. Faced with this challenge, ELA was created in 2019 to help ensure fair and effective enforcement of EU rules on labour mobility, including free movement, posting of workers and social security coordination.

Aware of the importance of ELA’s mission in the fight against workers’ exploitation, the European Parliament is, this week, set to adopt a resolution calling for the strengthening of its mandate. The S&Ds therefore welcome the decision of the current Belgian Presidency to put this issue among its priorities over the following six months.

Agnes Jongerius, S&D MEP and European Parliament’s co-rapporteur on the revision of the European Labour Authority’s mandate, said:

“Europe is not only a workplace for Europeans, but also for non-Europeans. There are examples, like last year's ordeal of unpaid lorry drivers at the rest stop in Gräfenhausen, Germany, where third-country nationals were exploited, but ELA was not able to act. When an EU-based employer is not paying its workers or is treating them badly, this should be investigated and persecuted by ELA. No matter if workers are Europeans or non-Europeans.

“Furthermore, ELA should be allowed to conduct investigations on its own, not just when invited. This can be illustrated with a simple example from our everyday lives: when you expect visitors, you clean up your house, while unexpected guests might find your house in a mess. The same logic applies for ELA. If a member state is aware of workers’ exploitation, it will not be keen to invite ELA over. We need to strengthen ELA’s mandate by giving them their own investigative powers, as is the case with the European Banking Authority.

“Finally, a word on social partners. Who knows better what is going on at the workplace than social partners? It is essential that social partners can also bring forward cases to ELA, and that those cases are followed-up, meaning that ELA must report back on their findings.”

 

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