The passivity of politicians after the ECJ rulings an alarming sign

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Wanja Lundby-Wedin, President of LO and of the European Trade Union Confederation:
The passivity of politicians in Europe after the ECJ rulings an alarming sign

Representatives from the European Commission and the ministers for employment from Sweden and from a number of other European countries recently declared at a “Forum on Workers’ Rights and Economic Freedoms”, organised by the Commission, that they are not prepared to act for a review of the Posting Directive, nor to support the requirement to add a social progress protocol to the EU treaties.

A majority of the ministers for employment recognise that the recent ECJ rulings in the field of labour market, particularly the Laval case, have disturbed the balance between the social and economic dimensions of the EU. The judgments signify a restriction of the member states’ freedom of action to independently regulate national labour markets. The ministers are troubled about the activism shown by the ECJ but they are not willing to take action.

- It is alarming that politicians in the EU member states remain passive about the ECJ decisions. It is unacceptable that politicians are afraid of assuming their responsibility and taking action in issues that require political solutions. If politicians in EU member states don’t have the courage to work for amendments in the Posting Directive, people’s confidence in the EU will be jeopardised, Wanja Lundby-Wedin comments.

During the Forum it became obvious that the gap between trade unions and employers in Europe is big. Business Europe, unlike the ETUC, considers that the outcome of the Viking, Laval, Rüffert and Luxemburg cases is satisfactory and that there is no need to revise the Directive on the Posting of Workers. The European Commission’s proposal to entrust the social partners at the European level with the task to jointly submit amendments to the Directive has very little chance of succeeding.

- There are considerable discrepancies between employers’ and trade unions’ view on the aims and objectives of the EU. Employers maintain that the EU is a market project, with free movement and competition as a guiding star. We are of the opinion that the EU social dimension, with equality and protection of workers’ basic rights, is a prerequisite for free movement. These different starting points become clear when the consequences of the decisions of the ECJ are being discussed. We demand that employers live up to an active social dialogue that aims to establish a balance between free movement and workers’ rights.