The Malta Independent 20 February 2019, Wednesday

Ensuring workers rights across the EU

Francis Zammit Dimech Wednesday, 9 January 2019, 07:55 Last update: about 2 months ago

We live in a world where people no longer stay in the same job or in the same country throughout their lives. The reality is that nowadays there are more and more people that live and work in another EU Member State. The free movement of people, and more specifically the free movement of workers is an integral part of the EU’s founding principles, that concerns all its citizens. In principle, EU citizens are free to exercise their economic freedoms across the borders and within the territory of the Union. Moving to another EU Member State to undertake any economic activity is as important for the individuals as it is for the European Union as a whole. For the EU citizens who are economically active, moving to another country for work becomes an enriching personal and professional experience. This can help individuals to find more and better jobs, which in addition can improve their general well-being and bring  higher levels of satisfaction that may arise as a consequence of this decision. 

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The European labour market is undergoing changes which have introduced new forms of work and an increased mobility of workers across Member States. In 2018, we marked the 50thanniversary of the founding regulation on the free movement of workers, which so far has resulted in a significant increase of the number of citizens that work in a Member State other than that of their nationality. The number of people working and living across Europe has almost doubled during the past decade, which has resulted in 17 million EU citizens of working age to live in another EU Member State. While more and more EU citizens are looking for a job in another EU country, this however demands the regulation of several aspects of mobility such as: social security coordination, posting of workers and free movement of workers.

With the rise of employment in Europe, it becomes necessary to address several questions that will ensure that everyone benefits from the same rules in a fair, simple and effective way. How can we make sure that the same rules apply for all citizens of the European Union who live and work in another Member State? How can we provide an environment where all Member States co-operate with one another in order to ensure the European labour market is open and accessible to all, while at the same time guaranteeing social rights and social protection for all workers?

Over the past months I have worked in favour of the establishment of a European Labour Authority (ELA) that will ensure that citizens, businesses and societies benefit from the opportunities offered by free movement and ensure that fair labour standards are fully respected in the market. More importantly, the European Labour Authority will play a pivotal role to ensure that social security systems are in place across the EU and issues such as posting of workers are resolved better in the future. The establishment of ELA will have a tremendous effect on our country, as well. Since Malta joined the European Union in 2004, many Maltese people are working in another Member State. With the European Labour Authority in place, Maltese citizens and employers will have better access to information regarding employment, mobility, training and learning, as well as rights and obligations for those who are engaged in cross-border activity in another EU Member State. Only through enhanced co-operation among Member States, will it be possible to tackle several fraudulent employment practices that touch upon Maltese citizens and businesses alike by ensuring fair competition.

It is our duty to safeguard that Maltese citizens will have a meaningful job whether in Malta or in another Member State, and that they are equally entitled to social protection and are treated fairly when they move to another Member State. It is now the responsibility of Maltese national authorities to ensure that we offer the required administrative support to the new EU agency, and Member States’ authorities in order to guarantee that a well-functioning labour market is in place. It is my commitment to protect the interests of the Maltese citizens so that they make better and informed decisions about their rights and obligations whenever they decide to undertake any economic activity in another EU Member State. I promise to keep on working to bring the voice of the Maltese citizens closer to the European Union, so that we ensure fair labour mobility in the EU that benefits both our citizens and businesses alike.

 

Francis Zammit Dimech is a former MP and minister and a current MEP

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