EU level: Latest working life developments – Q2 2017

The Framework of Actions on Youth Employment, the Rome Declaration, initiatives by social partners in the labour market, a White Paper on Europe’s future and a package of transport proposals are the main topics of interest in this article. This update reports on the latest developments in working life at EU level in the second quarter of 2017.

Conference on Framework of Actions on Youth Employment

As part of the EU Social Dialogue integrated project for 2016–2018, the European social partners organised a joint conference on 20 June to look at the achievements of, and future challenges for, the Framework of Actions on Youth Employment. These social partners comprise the European Trade Union Confederation together (ETUC) with employer organisations BusinessEurope, the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UEAPME) and European Centre of Employers and Enterprises (CEEP). 

The conference aimed to achieve the following:

  • take stock of national developments and exchange information about activities at national level
  • discuss the preliminary findings of the final evaluation of the framework of actions, highlighting the main trends in learning, transition, employment and entrepreneurship
  • encourage national social partners to report on follow-up activities at national level – especially in countries where there has been a lack of reporting in the annual follow-up reports.

It is expected that a number of outputs will follow from the conference:

  • a final evaluation report, prepared by the European social partners
  • the start of negotiations on the next bipartite work programme of the European social partners (after the summer break)
  • a European Commission report on the quality of the Youth Guarantee offer, due December 2017.

Rome Declaration adopted

The ETUC held its mid-term conference in Rome from 29–31 May 2017. The conference theme was Europe for Working People, focusing on the future that the European trade union movement wants to build for European workers and their families. The Rome Declaration, adopted at the conference, sets out the following priorities:

  • investment for sustainable growth, quality job creation, and quality public services
  • the issue of pay rises and upward wage convergence through stronger collective bargaining, social dialogue and workers’ participation
  • ensuring a just transition towards a low-carbon economy, sustainable digitalisation and automation, fair globalisation and a progressive trade agenda
  • a more social Europe with stronger social rights, through a strong European Pillar of Social Rights and a social progress protocol;
  • fighting social and wage dumping and achieving full equal treatment and integration, through fair mobility and migration, in a just internal market.

Initiatives by social partners in retail and wholesale labour market

On 30 May, EuroCommerce and UNI Europa, the EU social partners for the retail and wholesale sector, organised a seminar to launch the findings of their joint report: Analysis of the labour market in retail and wholesale (PDF).

The retail and wholesale sectors are experiencing rapid changes in demographics, economic conditions, technology, environment and regulation. Digitalisation is changing the sector fundamentally, creating new business opportunities and models, new jobs and new forms of work and self-employment.

The aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of the impact of these trends. It explored three main topics:

  • the structure and major trends in the EU retail and wholesale sector
  • labour market and changing forms of employment and work arrangements
  • industrial relations.

The report includes case studies from Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The European Commission launched its New Skills Agenda for Europe on 10 June. IndustriAll Global Union and the Council of European Employers of the Metal, Engineering and Technology-based industries (CEEMET) joined forces to welcome the strategy. They also called for an ambitious vocational education and training system to overcome skills shortages, support the adaptability and employability of workers and ensure the competitiveness of the metal, engineering and technology sector.

The future of Europe White Paper

In March, the European Commission presented its White Paper on the future of Europe, outlining five scenarios for the European Union's evolution. The ideas in the paper are developed further in a series of reflection papers:

The European Commission, together with the European Parliament and interested Member States, will host a series of Future of Europe debates ahead of the European Parliament elections in June 2019. The debates will take place across Europe's cities and regions, engaging with national parliaments, local and regional authorities, and civil society at large.

These initiatives will be addressed in the Commission President’s State of the Union Speech in September 2017 and at the European Council in October 2017.

Commission presents proposals for European mobility and transport 

In May 2017, the European Commission presented its mobility and transport package, Europe on the Move.

The package includes proposals to amend legislation on market access and social rights for truck drivers, as well as amendments to the Eurovignette Directive and the Interoperability Directive to introduce regulations for distance-based road charging systems for trucks and cars. The cooperation on enforcement among Member States would also be strengthened. The package includes a number of proposals.

Revision of Directive 2006/22/EC: This proposal addresses the risks of inadequate working conditions for drivers, including terms and conditions of employment. At the same time, it aims to mitigate excessive regulatory burdens on operators and prevent distortions of competition. The overarching goal is to ensure a balance between adequate working conditions for drivers and freedom to provide cross-border services for operators. There are specific rules on posting drivers in the road transport sector.

Revision of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on driving and rest periods and of Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 on tachographs: This proposal addresses the scheduling of transport drivers’ working time and introduces (Article 6) the requirement to keep a time record that is linked to transport activities and driver stand-by availability. It sets out the principle that rests should be taken in an appropriate place outside the vehicle (not in the cabin), and that the costs of rests should be borne by the employer when they are not taken at the driver’s home. Work should be organised such that rest times are taken at home at least once every three weeks (Article 8(8) b). Furthermore, rest time arrangements can be in a more flexible manner.

Consultation with social partners on revision of Road Transport Working Time Directive: As part of the package, the Commission has also launched a first-phase consultation of the social partners on a possible revision of the Road Transport Working Time Directive (Directive 2002/15/EC).

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) criticised the package and BusinessEurope expressed concerns from business about the mobility package in a letter to the European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc.

Commentary

The European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council are working towards reaching a broad political support and high-level endorsement of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The calendar for the proclamation of the Pillar of Social Rights is as follows:

  • 23 October: Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council configuration (EPSCO) meet to define the mandate for the proclamation.
  • 17 November: Social summit for fair jobs and growth in Gothenburg – Informal discussion to create momentum for the proclamation.
  • 14–15 December: Side event to the European Council – Proclamation.
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