Questions and Answers

Your Opinion on the European Labour Authority

CHALLENGES AS REGARDS EU LABOUR MOBILITY

1. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that existing cooperation between national authorities is insufficient to ensure the effective implementation of EU employment and social security rules in cross-border situations:

  •   Strongly disagree
  •   Disagree
  •   Neutral
  •   Agree
  •   Strongly Agree
  •   Don't know / cannot answer

2. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that the elements presented in the table below constitute challenges to effective cooperation between national authorities on EU cross-border mobility:

  strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree Don't know / no opinion
Fragmentation of networks of cooperation in different areas (e.g. posting, free movement of workers, social security coordination)            
Insufficiency of resources of national authorities to cooperate effectively            
Difficulty in accessing relevant documentation from other Member States            
Lack or insufficiency of fora for dispute settlement            
Difficulties in addressing complex cases of fraud and/or abuse that have a cross-border dimension            
Divergent interpretation and/or enforcement of harmonised rules            
Other (Please explain)            

Please explain:

Given the increase in cross-border mobility, I welcome the proposal for a European Labour Authority (ELA). The EU needs to ensure that workers are not exploited when they are working cross border.

Free movement of workers is a fundamental pillar of the Union and EU initiatives to further boost companies’ mobility are numerous. In contrast, enforcement of legal obligations in general, and of social norms in particular, primarily remains a national competence. EU intervention in this area essentially consists in coordination of national rules and exchange of information between Member States.

Where enforcement exists it is fragmented and the capacity of national authorities to address highly mobile and complex business models is often insufficient. These insufficiencies are exploited by unscrupulous companies for the purpose of evading national and European social rules. The lack of effective enforcement leads to severe exploitation of workers and increasing fraud to social security regimes.

The European Labour Authority must also provide assistance to trade unions who are seeking to take cases on behalf of workers across borders.

While tackling social dumping and ensuring the enforcement of EU employment rights, the European Labour Authority must not interfere with social partners’ autonomy and it must not undermine national systems that involve trade unions in enforcement and inspection. It should contribute to and complement the tasks of the Member States’ authorities and other competent bodies, but it should not replace them. Collective bargaining and collective agreements must always be respected. Purely domestic issues should not be within the scope of the Authority’s competence.

3. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that insufficient access to information and transparency on cross-border mobility rules is a problem for individuals and businesses:

  •   Strongly disagree
  •   Disagree
  •   Neutral
  •   Agree
  •   Strongly Agree
  •   Don't know / cannot answer

4. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that the elements presented in the table constitute challenges to fair and easy access to information and transparency of labour mobility rules:

  strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree Don't know / no opinion
Lack of access to information on EU or national rules in my language            
Lack of easily understandable explanations of rights and obligations to comply with when working abroad            
Lack of easily understandable explanations of rights and obligations to comply with when sending people to work abroad (posting of workers)            
Difficulty to identify and/or contact the competent authority to solve my problems            
Lack of assistance and/or guidance by the competent authorities in my own country            
Information on rights and obligations in the field of labour mobility is fragmented across different platforms            
Other (Please explain)            

Please explain:

The ELA can improve transparency and access to information regarding rights and obligations in the field of labour mobility and social security systems. This could include:

• Pooling existing tools for cross-border mobility (for example Eures portal, EESI), to provide a (multilingual) platform with better information for mobile workers and public authorities;

• Facilitate input and exchange of information, including the job matching portal, directly accessible by jobseekers;

• Include info on joining a trade union, industrial relations systems, wages and wage-setting;

• Provide trade unions and employers with information, support, access to resources and technical assistance for management of restructuring in cross border situations.
OBJECTIVES OF A EUROPEAN LABOUR AUTHORITY

5. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that following functions could be usefully carried out by a permanent EU body dealing with labour mobility and social security in cross-border situations:

  strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree Don't know / no opinion
Support the exchange of information of businesses, workers and citizens            
Coordination of systematic cooperation and information exchange between national authorities            
Support the rationalisation and streamlining of administrative practices for cross-border cases            
Provision of technical assistance and capacity building to national authorities            
Provision of analytical support and intelligence on labour mobility issues            
Coordination of joint inspections by national administrations in cross-border employment and social security matters            
Dispute resolution mechanisms in cross-border employment and social security matters            
Other (Please explain)            

Please explain:

Key role for the European Labour Authority should be promoting better enforcement of EU labour and social security rights and the fight against social dumping and cross border social fraud.

The ELA should act as a support service for national enforcement authorities. The ELA could play a mediation role between national authorities for instance on failure to cooperate with requests for information or assistance or in respect of social security disputes. It can help to improve national implementation of EU labour and social security law, along with supporting the coordination of possible cross-border inspections.

It is essential that the ELA would be obliged to assist trade unions to secure the rights of workers in cross border situations and assist them to pursue cases on behalf of workers across borders. It should also provide information to trade unions to assist them in situations where the employer changes their ‘seat’ and with information needed to support the proper establishment and functioning of EWCs and with the SE.

The Authority’s areas of focus should include posting of workers, cross-border job placement services and work for foreign employers, clients or intermediary platforms in the digital world of work and frontier workers. It should also assist workers and their unions in cases of cross border insolvency.
POTENTIAL IMPACTS

6. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that improving cooperation between Member States' authorities on EU employment and social security rules in cross-border situations would have the following impacts:

  strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree Don't know / no opinion
Facilitating efficiency gains, in particular, by simplifying existing processes and structures            
Reducing the risk of abuse and/or fraud, due to non-compliance with EU and/or national rules            
Increasing the level of trust between administrations            
Other (Please explain)            

Please explain:

National liaison officers should be seconded to the ELA as representatives of national enforcement authorities. As a support service for national enforcement authorities, the ELA should carry the following activities:

• Operational analysis and support to Member States operations. The possibility of joint inspections should be reflected upon;

• Expertise and technical support for national investigations and operations;

• Strategic reports and fraud analysis (early warning system, risk assessment identifying projects, sectors, and/ or geographical zones particularly vulnerable to fraud);

• Non-binding policy recommendations both to the EU and the Member States.

The ELA can play a mediatory role between Member States for example on the delivery of A1 forms.

The ELA should assist the European Commission regarding complaints and in investigating poor implementation of EU labour and social security rights by the Member States.

7. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that improving access to information and transparency for individuals and businesses on EU employment and social security rules in cross-border situations would have the following impacts?

  strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree Don't know / no opinion
Raising awareness of EU rules and rights            
Facilitating opportunities to work abroad            
Enhancing of portability of social security rights            
Reducing the risk of abuse and/or fraud for workers and businesses            
Facilitating compliance with the EU rules            
Other (Please explain)            

Please explain:

See Question 4

8. How to you see the relationship between the European Labour Authority and other EU agencies, notably those in the employment domain (For example, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work?

One of the Authority’s tasks should be research and surveys on European labour markets, provisions for the protection of workers and the enforcement of claims under labour law affecting cross-border issues.

For this the ELA should cooperate with other EU agencies like Eurofound. The ELA should focus on practical-orientated approach, while basic research should be left to Eurofound.

Furthermore, the ELA could manage the data generated by the possible European social security number, provided that adequate integrity safeguards are put in place. Access to the data base could also be provided to Eurofound for research and planning purposes.

Your Opinion on the European Social Security Number

9. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements regarding the consequences of having a wide variety of national social security numbers and of mechanisms used for identification and registration of persons in national databases:

  strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree Don't know / no opinion
It is often complicated for the insured persons to prove their identity for social security purposes across borders            
It makes it complicated for the social security institutions to determine the identity of the person for social security purposes across borders            

Please explain, if possible, by providing concrete examples:

10. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that a European Social Security Number with the objectives as described in the introduction makes it easier to exercise social security rights when moving or travelling to another EU country:

  •   Strongly disagree
  •   Disagree
  •   Neutral
  •   Agree
  •   Strongly Agree
  •   Don't know / cannot answer

11. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree that the ESSN may bring the following benefits:

  strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree Don't know / no opinion
Better functioning of European labour market (free movement of workers)            
Simplification of procedures for citizens/workers to prove their identity for social security purposes            
More efficient procedures for e.g. institutions/service providers to verify the identity for social security purposes            
Fight against fraud and abuse            
Enhancement of transparency of social security benefits and entitlements            
Other (Please describe)            

Please describe:

12. Please indicate your preferred option as regards the set-up of the ESSN:

  •   A fixed format for national numbers (e.g. prefix added to existing national numbers);
  •   On top of the existing national social security number(s) a dedicated EU social security number
  •   Other

Please describe:

13. If a European Social Security Number were introduced, to whom should it be issued?

  •   To all EU citizens
  •   To every newly born
  •   To every newly born and to every citizen once he/she is moving/travelling to another Member State
  •   To every citizen once he/she is moving/travelling to another Member State
  •   Other

Please specify:

14. Please indicate what could potentially be covered by the European Social Security Number as a priority (multiple replies possible):

  •   unplanned health care provision (as currently done by the European Health Insurance Card)
  •   planned healthcare provision
  •   proof of social security cover for posted workers (currently: A1 form used by posted workers)
  •   sickness, maternity and paternity benefits
  •   old-age pensions
  •   pre-retirement and invalidity pensions
  •   survivors' benefits and death grants
  •   unemployment
  •   family benefits
  •   accidents at work and occupational illness
  •   other

Please describe:

15. The Commission has announced the ESSN as a 'multi-purpose' number. Taxation could be an area to be considered. What could be in your view the other purposes, beyond social security, for which the ESSN could potentially be used?

16. Please provide any further observations that you might have concerning the European Labour Authority and/or the European Social Security Number: