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Young Europeans cannot afford unpaid work – write that into EU law!


14 Jun 2023



Ahead of today’s crucial vote on quality traineeships, the Socialists and Democrats urge the European Parliament to keep its promise to young Europeans and call for an EU law to ensure that all trainees are paid.

The S&D Group has so far managed to avert the conservatives’ and the far right’s campaign against any EU legislation on paid traineeships. Today, we must ensure that our ambition prevails again.

Alicia Homs, S&D negotiator on quality traineeships, said:

“Trainees perform a real job so they need to be treated and paid as workers. It is high time to stop abusing them as cheap or free labour.

“In May, we secured the employment committee’s call for an EU law to treat all trainees on the open labour market as workers. Among other things, this means written agreements with decent working conditions, access to social protection – such as health insurance, unemployment benefits, and paid leave – as well as recognition of traineeships as work experience in recruitment. We must ensure that all this is reaffirmed today at the plenary.

“While for traineeships on the open market, the Parliament is expected to call for minimum standards to be regulated at the European level in the form of a directive, there are also other forms of traineeships, which are part of formal education or curricula, and cannot be regulated at the European level. In those cases, the Parliament wants to replace the current non-binding recommendation with a legally binding decision. Those trainees should also have access to social protection and should always be paid in the form of financial compensation to cover their necessary expenses, such as accommodation, food and transport – in view of the national socio-economic conditions and the cost of living in the EU member state in which they work.”              

Agnes Jongerius, MEP and S&D spokesperson for employment, added: 

“We remain determined to ensure that all traineeships are paid, treated as proper work experience, limited in time, and not renewed or prolonged to result in the replacement of entry-level jobs, vacancies for full-time jobs or indefinite-term employment contracts. Furthermore, all traineeships should be inclusive and attentive to the needs of vulnerable groups, in particular persons with disabilities. 

“I am proud that we have so far kept our promise to young Europeans to ban unpaid traineeships and that we have managed to avert the attempts of the conservatives in this house to prevent any legislation on paid traineeships. We expect that the Parliament remain true to its pledge at the plenary today. 

“After the Parliament’s call for the new law, we hope for an immediate launch of consultations with social partners, which is the first concrete step towards the legislation. We are calling on the European Commission to present the legislative proposal by the end of this year.”


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