A compromised was reached with respect to the main lines of the amendment of the legislation relating to posted workers at the Monday meeting of EU Ministers responsible for employment and social affairs held in Luxembourg. According to Minister of State Szabolcs Takács, the Hungarian delegation managed to protect the interests of the haulage sector.
At the end of the talks which carried on well into the night, the attendees adopted with a qualified majority a so-called general approach regarding the Posted Workers Directive, based on which the Council comprised of the Governments of the Member States may commence consultations with the European Parliament.
Mr Takács said: on behalf of the Visegrád countries the Hungarian Government made a number of “constructive” proposals which were joined by several Member States, but these were only partially accepted, and in consequence, Hungary together with six other countries did not vote for the Council decision in the end.
The European Commission submitted its proposed amendments last March, pursuant to which the same regulations would apply to posted workers as regards wages and working conditions as to locals. According to critics, this would detrimentally affect several late-joining Member States.
According to the compromise now reached, the labour law terms of the recipient country would apply after 12 months, and this time limit could be extended by a further six months on one occasion. The Commission’s original proposal stipulated 24 months, but according to press reports, France lobbied intensively for the reduction of this time limit.
One of the most important points of the compromise is that the provisions of this amendment will not affect the haulage sector as separate rules will be adopted to regulate that industry.
The Ministers also agreed that after the conclusion of the compromise, Member States will have three years to transpose the new regulations into their respective national laws, and these regulations will enter into force one year thereafter.
Mr Takács said after the council meeting that, according to their argument, hauliers are not posted, but mobile workers, and logic dictates that different rules should apply to them. As he said, this was accepted by all the Member States, and in consequence, hauliers will be allowed to continue their activities under unchanged conditions.
“We believe it is a great achievement that we must continue talks with respect to the haulage sector until a compromise is reached which is acceptable for all parties”, the Minister of State for EU Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office stressed, highlighting that during the course of these talks the Government “will continue to develop its position in consultation with the Hungarian business actors concerned”.
He added: the amendment of the Directive has been on the agenda of meetings of the Council held at different levels for 19 months which amply demonstrates the complexity of the issue and its impact on the functioning of the single market.
Commissioner for Employment Marianne Thyssen took the view that “a balanced compromise” has been reached which creates fair rules for everyone.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the “ambitious” compromise on Twitter which, as he wrote, will result in more protection and less abuse.
Pursuant to the regulations currently in force, employers are not obliged to pay their posted workers more than the minimum wage applicable in the recipient country,
and the latter therefore often receive lower pay for the same job than locals which may, as argued by the European Commission, have a distorting effect on competition.
Those opposed to the original proposal take the view, however, that the issue does not fall within EU competence, but within the competence of the Member States, and additionally, the changes initiated by the Commission would constitute an obstacle to the freedom of the provision of services and would force the employees of Eastern- and Central-European countries off the single market.
Source: Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI