EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

European Labour Authority

 In September 2017, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the creation of a European Labour Authority (ELA) in his State of the European Union address to the European Parliament. The aim of the new agency is to ensure that all EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way by a new European inspection and enforcement body’.

The proposal was part of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Following the announcement, the European Commission launched a public consultation process outlining possible tasks and responsibilities for the new agency within three scenarios: a support role, an operational role and a mandatory role.

On 13 March 2018, the European Commission published the Social Fairness Package, consisting of proposals for a European Labour Authority (regulation) and for a Council recommendation to improve access to social protection. The communication accompanying the package not only details the content but also sets out the Commission's vision for ‘appropriate’ monitoring of the implementation of the Pillar. A further legislative proposal on a European Social Security Number (regulation) will follow later this year. The proposal for a Regulation aims at setting up a European Labour Authority, in the form of a decentralised EU agency, to help individuals, businesses and national administrations to make the most of the opportunities offered by free movement and to ensure a level playing field for workers' mobility. The Authority has three objectives: 

  • to facilitate access for individuals and employers to information on their rights and obligations as well as to relevant services. The Authority will provide information on employment, learning, mobility, recruitment and training opportunities, as well as guidance on the rights and obligations of those who live, work or are engaged in cross-border activities in another EU Member State;
  • to support cooperation between Member States in the cross-border enforcement of relevant Union law, including facilitating joint inspections. For example, the Authority will help to improve the exchange of information, support capacity building in national administrations, and assist them in carrying out joint inspections. The objectives are to enhance mutual trust between the actors, to improve day-to-day cooperation and to prevent possible fraud and abuse;
  • to mediate and facilitate a solution in cases of cross-border disputes between national authorities or labour market disruptions such as restructuring of companies affecting several Member States.

It is also foreseen that the ELA will take over management of the EURES European Coordination Office, as well as replace the Technical Committee on the Free Movement of Workers, the Committee of Experts on Posting of Workers, the Technical Commission, the Audit Board, the Conciliation Board of the Administrative Commission for the Coordination of Social Security Systems and the European Platform on tackling undeclared work. ELA will also cooperate and build synergies with other EU agencies, including Eurofound, Cedefop, EU-OSHA, ETF, Europol and Eurojust.

To assist with the preparation and establishment of the Authority, the Commission also presented a Decision setting up an advisory group bringing together key stakeholders. This Decision entered into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, 15 March 2018. It shall apply until the European Labour Authority has been set up.

The new agency will start its activities in 2019 with a view to being fully operational by 2023.  The total budgetary cost for the EU of the Authority is estimated at EUR 50.9 million per year at cruising speed (which should be reached by 2023). As regards staff numbers, the Authority would need 69 establishment plan posts, 60 seconded national experts and 15 contract agents.

Next steps: the EU co-legislators (European Parliament and Council) are working on the draft regulation aiming to reach an agreement before the end of the legislature.

See also: Posted workers; free movement of workers; mobility of workers; better regulation; social pillar.

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