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Yesterday, the European Parliament adopted a landmark report “on effective labour inspections as a strategy to improve working conditions in Europe” . Through this report the European Parliament sends out an important message to the next European Commissioner of Employment and Social Affairs to keep the issues of undeclared labour, social dumping and worker exploitation high on the political agenda.

The report comes at a crucial moment when Social Europe is strongly challenged and often considered as an obstacle for achieving the Internal Market goals. Many forms of undeclared labour, social dumping and worker exploitation are a direct consequence of European and national deregulation and fragmentation policies. In addition to this, the European and several national authorities have used the current economic crisis as a pretext to reduce the number of controls and inspections, which has resulted in an increase of undeclared labour in the EU.

The Parliament report contains a long and useful list of clear instructions and guidelines for the Member States and the European Commission. Some concrete examples are:
1. To step up the number of inspections, especially in vulnerable sectors such as the construction industry, agricultural, catering sectors, …
2. To focus controls and investigations on specific high-risk jobs, such as agency workers, posted workers, fake self-employment work, …
3. To equip national labour inspections with sufficient staff, logistical and training facilities;
4. To tackle undeclared labour via innovative and smart techniques;
5. That efficient sanctions should be dissuasive and swiftly imposed on fraudulent actors;
6. That illicit actions, such as the blacklisting of workers (as discovered last year in the UK), is completely unacceptable and should be sanctioned;
7. That whistle-blowers are entitled to a proper protection;

A particular call of the European Parliament, directly addressed to the European Commission, is to examine the possibility of introducing a European Social Identity Card on which could be stored all the data needed to verify the bearer’s employment relationship, such as the social security status, working hours and so on. Such an instrument would indeed facilitate the work of many labour inspectors and would lead to a significant drop of various forms of undeclared labour.

Let us hope that the next European Commission will not hide their heads in the sand and pretend that the problem of undeclared labour is just a marginal problem.

Brussels, 15 January 2014

For additional information, please contact:
Sam Hägglund
Werner Buelen,

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