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The Communication on the Single Market Act opens the door to a regulation to secure fundamental social rights
On 27 October, the Commission presented its Communication on a Single Market Act, containing 50 proposals for “a highly competitive social market economy” (COM(2010)608). All in all, and specifically as regards the goal of creating “a social market economy”, the Communication is disappointing and does not contain many effective proposals to strengthen the social dimension of the internal market. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that the Commission has come to realise “that the success of the European model depends on its ability to combine economic performance with social justice and to involve economic operators and the social partners in achieving this goal.”

To this end, the Communication considers the issues of fundamental social rights and the right to take collective action, which may address the European trade union movement’s concerns about the restrictions on the right to strike resulting from the Viking and Laval judgments handed down by the European Court of Justice. Proposal No. 29 states that: “Pursuant to the new strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union, the Commission will ensure the rights guaranteed in the Charter, including the right to take collective action, are taken into account.” More concretely, Proposal No. 30 of the Communication states that a legislative proposal will be adopted in 2011 aimed at improving the implementation of the Posting of Workers Directive. According to the Commission, the “implementation, application and enforcement of this Directive could be improved and its interpretation clarified.”

Moreover, the Commission adds that this legislative proposal “is likely to contain or be supplemented by a clarification of the exercise of fundamental social rights within the context of the economic freedoms of the single market.” This last part of Proposal No. 30 may open the door to a regulation on social dialogue in the single market, which the EFBWW has been pushing for in order to secure the right to collective bargaining and collective action at EU level. Commissioner Michel Barnier – the main person responsible for this issue at the Commission – has commented on the Communication in a statement in which he says that the Single Market Act will have a “social clause” which will “guarantee that the fundamental social rights, and in particular collective social rights, will not be undermined by any legislation in the internal market.” Mr Barnier admitted that this had required a “long discussion” within the Commission and that there were “different perceptions” among the Commissioners. According to Le Monde, paragraphs on the right to strike were opposed by Commissioners from the UK, Germany, Sweden and Denmark.



The Communication is available at the following link:
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/smact/docs/single-market-act_en.pdf



Mr Barnier’s declaration is available (in French) at the following link:
http://www.journaldunet.com/economie/actualite/depeche/afp/24/716268/bruxelles_veut_remettre_le_social_a_l_ordre_du_jour_dans_l_ue.shtml



 
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