Opposition to e-card voiced again

12 September 2017

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Concerns about the potential negative impact of the European Commission’s services e-card on certain services sectors have been expressed by the social partners of the three sectors directly affected by the proposal – construction, cleaning and insurance.

The proposed European services e-card is designed to make it easier for companies to work in other Member States.

The European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) has already been resisting the introduction of the e-card, requesting that the construction industry be left out of European legislators’ plans.

At a public hearing organised by the social partners of the three sectors, the potential impact and social consequences of the proposed e-card on these sectors were examined.

As the largest component of the EU’s economy, these services sectors unanimously support the freedom to provide services across the EU – provided that there is fair competition, labour protection and a well-functioning Single Market.

However, they said it seemed that the proposed services e-card could be counterproductive to these goals.

The sectoral social partners, which also includes the European Federation of Building & Woodworkers (EFBWW) said they were convinced that the e-card was likely, in their sectors, to facilitate current fraud mechanisms, and even allow the creation of new ones. They said this could lead to bogus self-employment, undeclared work, fake posting of workers, increased administrative burden, additional cost, and the noncompliance of social and labour regulations.

In addition, they said, the insurance-related provisions would not work in practice.

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It was felt that both home and host Member States would have to face unrealistic deadlines for actually checking and verifying the information prior to tacit approval of the e-card.

On top of this, host Member States would not have sufficient power and resources to oversee and administer the services e-card system properly, they said.

The social partners feel there is real danger that this e-card would not lead to a fairer and more social internal market for services and, conversely, it could worsen the status quo for workers and introduce the home-country principle through the backdoor.

They said it was worrying that the Commission proposal was focused only on economic aspects, and not respecting labour law and consumer protection. If the concerns of the affected sectors were not addressed correctly, they said, this proposed e-card had the potential to go against the needs and wishes of both employers and employees and, ultimately, threaten these vital sectors.

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On 10 January, 2017, the European Commission published a number of legislative initiatives as part of its Single Market Strategy – Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business COM(2015) 550 final.

These include a Regulation introducing a European services e-card and a Directive on the legal and operational framework of the European services e-card.

As sectors directly targeted by the proposal, the social partners of the construction, cleaning and insurance sectors have voiced concerns about the proposal and its ability to strengthen the single market for services in a joint position paper dated 10/05/2017.

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