In the European Union, work is continuing on the draft Mobility Package and the Posting of Workers Directive. The aim of changes in the EU law is to facilitate the provision of services to entrepreneurs while ensuring fair competition and respect for the rights of employees working in one Member State and temporarily sent to another country. Although transport is to be covered by the provisions of the revised directive, it will only happen when the Mobility Package enters into force.
Some transport associations in Europe are opposed to the application of the directive on the posting of workers to international transport. In October 2017, on the initiative of the Association for the Danish Road Transport of Goods (ITD), a joint declaration was written, which until now has been signed by 29 associations representing the transport industry from the European Union.
The declaration states that applying posting rules to drivers who work on a daily or hourly basis in a different Member State „goes against the rationale of the Directive itself.” The administrative challenge would be unprecedented taking into account that drivers often cross borders several times a week and each time they enter a territory of a new country they would be subject to a different minimum wage, legislation regarding social security, paid holidays, etc. Such impediments, according to the statement, would „disproportionately restrict the activities of the vast majority of the EU transport companies, especially the small and medium sized.” In addition, it would also fragment the EU market and increase the competition, which could lead the existing companies to relocate outside the EU to avoid the administrative costs.
Emma Hadrovic, EU Consultant, Association for the Danish Road Transport of Goods (ITD), in an interview for Trans.INFO comments on the proposed amendments in the Mobility Package, which will regulate the transport sector law within the Posting of Workers Directive.
How do you assess the latest changes proposed in the Mobility Package?
Emma Hadrovic: When the lex specialis was first introduced in May 2017, it seemed as if the 3 day threshold for the application of the Posting of Workers Directive to road transport was arbitrary and was not at all consistent with its impact assessment nor the cases against countries systematically applying their minimum wage legislation to foreign operators. We see, however, that the European Parliament in its variety of amendment proposals shows a greater understanding of the administrative burdens connected to the application of the Posting of Workers Directive to such a hypermobile sector.
Is there still a chance to change the shape of the amendments in the directive on posting? What arguments should be used to convince European politicians and EU authorities?
The negotiations are developing fast and we need to promote a fact-based discussion of the lex specialis proposal. It is of utmost importance that the institutions do not set important issues aside such as the legal premise. It was never the legislator’s intention to apply the posting rules to cross-border transport, this has been reflected in numerous Commission documents and is also confirmed by numerous court cases, recently the German court reasoned that the minimum wage legislation is inapplicable to foreign hauliers and drivers due to an insufficient link to the German territory.
European politicians should also bear in mind how the rules will affect the entire transport chain in practice. It will become very burdensome for drivers, for companies as well as control authorities to apply different national labor laws with different remunerations systems, different compositions of the minimum wage, different social entitlements, different collective agreements etc. to cross-border drivers. This will lead to counterproductive developments in the market that no one will benefit from.
Until now, the belief that Western EU countries are satisfied with the direction of changes in EU law prevailed. Why is the ITD opposed to these projects?
This is not an East versus West debate. The rules will be very burdensome to companies and drivers performing cross-border transport services no matter which part of Europe they are from. This is very much reflected in the Declaration against the application of the Posting of Workers Directive to international transport. The Declaration represents views from all over Europe; it is signed by numerous organizations from 18 Member States, however, some of the signatory organizations also cover associations and companies from for instance France. No one will benefit, no matter where they are from.
If the directive is approved in its current form and will enter into force, do you think that it will affect the European economy and the transport sector? Who will gain the most and who will lose the most?
The application of the Directive to the hypermobile transport personnel will negatively affect not only the companies and drivers but also the customers, EU’s employment rates, growth and its global competitiveness.