Is the agreement on posted workers a real progress for social Europe?


After 12 hours of negotiation, the Ministers of Labour of the EU have at last reached an agreement on the revision of the posted workers directive. Gathered at the Luxembourg Summit, they have agreed especially on the principle of equal work/equal pay for posted and national workers.

Despite its inflexibility over the past few months on the maximal legal length of the assignment, France has had to soften its position to get support from the countries which were reluctant to any revision of the directive.  To succeed, the new draft shall be subject to a trilingual negotiation between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. As a matter of facts, the European Parliament will take a stand on the revision of the directive on Thursday based on a report by two MEP- Agnès Jongerius (S&D) and Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE). We will only be able at the end of this process to determine if the review of the directive marks a real break.


After the European Summit of the Labour and Social Affairs Ministers of the EU, the French were very enthusiastic. As a result of lengthy talks, an agreement has been concluded on the review of the directive on posted workers. Having managed to convince most of the member states to restrain the legal length of the assignment from 24 to 12 months is considered by the French daily newspaper “Le Monde” as a “French victory”. Criticized for her rigidity over the past few weeks, France finally managed to win her case on this subject for the great surprise of many observers. However, businesses still have the right to extend the length of the reassignment to 18 months on conditions of providing a reasoned demand. Remember that originally, posted work in the framework of the EEC was limited to 6 months, exceptionally renewable once.


Nevertheless, France seems to admit defeat on the road component. This sector is not included in the field of application of the new directive. To avoid alienating support of several eastern countries as well as Spain and Portugal, France has indeed recorded that road transport had its own directive which content still has not been defined.


Interviewed in our partner’s magazine “Alternative Economique”, Thiébaut Weber, Confederal Secretary at the ETUC[1] invites to qualify the impact of the agreement reached in Luxembourg. Even if there has been some progress on the draft negotiated by the 28, especially in the fight against fraud, the agreement is far from addressing all the issues. For him, the real key of the reform on the posted work lies in the European Parliament. The latter should indeed give its opinion on the revision of the directive on Thursday based on a report submitted by the MEPs, Agnès Jongerius (S&D) and Elisabeth Morin Chartier (PPE). The text tabled for the vote is a much more solid and ambitious compromise which does not exclude the road sector from the agreement and even includes an observance of the collective agreements for all posted workers.


According to Thiébaut Weber, the report adopted on Thursday by the MEPs will set the tone for the future negotiations between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council. It is only at the end of the tripartite negotiations that “a progress for social Europe” will be evoked


[1] European Trade Union Confederation