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France And Austria Seek To Fight Labour Dumping In The EU

25 August 2017

All Slovak ministers gave their approval for the rule prior to the meeting between Prime Minister Robert Fico and his counterparts Bohuslav Sobotka from the Czech Republic, Christian Kern from Austria and French President Emmanuel Macron in Salzburg on August 23.

Macron embarked Wednesday on a three-day diplomatic blitz through Austria, Romania and Bulgaria to drum up support for his ambitious plan to reform the directive at a summit in October.

The directive was launched in 1996 to help stimulate cross-border business activity, however critics argue that the bloc's eastward expansion in 2004 has opened the system to abuse.

Macron is also pushing for tighter rules to protect workers in prosperous countries in Western Europe from cheaper labor.

Macron aims at curtailing the practice of "posted workers", that is, a practice that entails working in one European Union member state for the minimum wage while being paid the benefits of another member state.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia make up half of the four so-called Visegrad states, a group that has opposed western European countries on issues including taking in refugees, and which has said Macron's proposals on posted workers go too far.

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"Public opinion in more developed countries with higher salaries will not accept the system in its current format", he said. While overseas, they continue to pay into the tax and social security systems of their home countries, allowing their employers to hire them for less than in Western countries where welfare costs are higher.

Austria has seen the number of posted workers rise from around 106,000 in 2014 to 166,490 in 2016 in a workforce of four million, according to the Vienna-based research institute L&R Sozialforschung. France wants to make 12 months the maximum period that a worker can be "posted".

Macron is also demanding greater efforts to fight abuse of the directive, under which 286,000 people were employed in France in 2015. They also said they wanted any moves towards faster integration by countries in the "core" of the European Union to be available to all member states.

One of the biggest opponents to Macron's proposal is expected to be Poland, which sends overseas 300,000 to 400,000 a year.

Last year, the European Commission proposed new rules to regulate pay for posted and local workers, but the proposals were opposed by member states in central and eastern Europe.

He also wants much deeper integration of the eurozone, including giving the 19-country currency bloc its own budget, finance minister, parliament and borrowing capacity.

France And Austria Seek To Fight Labour Dumping In The EU