Organisations target proposed Directive

By Sandy Guthrie12 April 2011

FIEC president Luisa Todini

FIEC president Luisa Todini

The EU is being asked to exempt the construction industry from a proposed Directive covering the entry of third-country nationals for seasonal employment.

FIEC (The European Construction Industry Federation) and EFBWW (The European Federation of Building & Woodworkers) said that although some construction activities - for example, road construction, roofing or paving - depended on climatic factors such as heat, frost, rain, cold, etc, such weather dependence was completely different from a fixed seasonal pattern.

The two organisations feel that construction is therefore not a seasonal activity. They have adopted a joint position paper in which they ask the EU legislator to exclude construction activities from the scope of the proposed Directive.

The EFBWW and FIEC said that within the framework of the proposed Directive, if it were up to each Member State to decide which activities were or were not seasonal, then such decision should be taken in consultation with the national social partners concerned.

To be able to apply the principle of EU preference regarding access to Member States' labour market, and the right of each Member State to determine the number of admissions of nationals from third countries to their territory, the two organisations said that the provisions of the proposed Directive should explicitly ensure that a Member State's decision on this did not affect other Member States and possibly cause distortions of migratory flows between countries or between industries.

According to EFBWW and FIEC, the validity of the permit should therefore be limited to the territory of the Member State that had issued it, and to the authorised activity only.

Luisa Todini, president of FIEC, said, "A sustainable and long-lasting growth of our economy and of the competitiveness of our industries can only be achieved if the opening of the European markets towards third country actors is made on the basis of reciprocity and of fair competition rules.

"At the international level, after 10 years of negotiations of GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) no tangible results have been achieved so far on the opening of markets for construction activities. Therefore, opening unilaterally the EU construction markets would seriously undermine the negotiation capacities of the EU."

She added, "The provisions regarding the mobility within the EU contained in the proposed Directive are unclear and ambiguous. They create confusion as regards the working conditions applicable to third-country nationals and provide opportunities for circumventing the Posting Directive, which is a crucial piece of legislation for our industry.

"In order to avoid misuses and abuses, what our companies and our workers need is a clear and unambiguous legal framework," she said.

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