Work assignments in Europe: Infringement proceedings are not sufficient

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The EU-Commission opened on 15 July 2021 infringement proceedings against 24 Member States, because their rules do not comply with the Enforcement Directive on the Posting of Workers Directive.

The EU-Commission opened on 15 July 2021 infringement proceedings by sending letters of formal notice to Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland, because these EU Member States have not brought their national rules into line with the Enforcement Directive on the Posting of Workers Directive. With these infringement proceedings, the EU-Commission wants to ensure that the applicable rules in these Member States continue to allow the posting of workers in the Internal Market without unnecessary obstacles for employers. The 24 Member States now have two months to take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the EU-Commission may decide to send reasoned opinions. VDMA has been drawing the attention of the EU-Commission to the bureaucratic hurdles and burdensome practices in many EU Member States in the area of posting of workers for a long time.

 

From VDMA’s point of view these infringement procedures are just a first step towards restoring the Internal Market. On the positive side, the EU-Commission explicitly criticises national rules that go too far.  Unfortunately, however, the administrative practices in many countries that cause particularly big problems for companies are not addressed. In addition, no infringement proceedings at all have been initiated against certain Member States where the mechanical engineering sector also has significant problems with posting, in particular Spain. Although the first eight days of a worker's assignment in Spain are exempted from the obligation to report, the reporting obligations vary from region to region and there is an obligation to have a service provider in Spain. Although the first eight days of a worker's assignment in Spain are exempted from the obligation to report, the reporting obligations vary from region to region and there is an obligation to have a service provider in Spain. For our companies, this is burdensome, expensive and complicated and should, therefore, be simplified as a matter of urgency.

 

Stages of infringement proceedings

 

The EU-Commission can start an infringement procedure, if a Member State fails to notify the measures taken to fully transpose a Directive or fails to rectify a breach of EU law. The first step is always a letter of formal notice from the EU-Commission. If, after receiving a detailed reply from the Member State concerned, the EU-Commission still considers that the Member State is not complying with its obligations, the EU-Commission can issue a reasoned opinion as a second step. If the Member State still does not comply, the EU Commission may decide to involve the EU Court of Justice. If the Court finds that a Member State has violated EU law, the national authorities must take measures to comply with the Court's ruling. If the Member State does not rectify the problem despite the Court's ruling, the EU-Commission can take the Member State to court again. This can lead to financial penalties in the end.