Documents considered by the Committee on 3 July 2019 Contents

3European Labour Authority

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee

Document details

Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Labour Authority

Legal base

Articles 46, 48, 53(1), 62 and 91(1) TFEU, ordinary legislative procedure, QMV


Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Document Number

(39563), 7203/18 + ADDs 1–3, COM(18) 131

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

3.1When we last considered the proposed Regulation to establish a European Labour Authority (“ELA”) at our meeting on 5 June, we renewed a scrutiny waiver previously granted in March to enable the Government to support its adoption at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council on 13 June. We did so on the strength of assurances given by the Government that the final compromise text “would not impose additional legislative obligations on Member States or impact national competencies”.8

3.2The broad objective of the European Labour Authority is to support Member States in applying and enforcing EU rules on labour mobility within the internal market and on social security coordination. The ELA would have no direct regulatory or enforcement powers, nor would it be able to direct national authorities. It would, however, take over the work of various technical advisory bodies that already exist at EU-level, including the European Coordination Office of EURES,9 the Advisory Committee on the Free Movement of Workers,10 the European Platform on tackling undeclared work11 and the Committee of Experts on Posting of Workers.12 It would also take over certain functions of the Administrative Commission for the Coordination of Social Security Systems, a body of Member State representatives which plays an important role in overseeing the application of complex EU rules on the coordination of national social security systems. Our earlier Reports listed at the end of this chapter provide a more detailed overview of the role of the ELA, its projected running costs and staffing.

3.3In her latest letter of 25 June 2019, the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Kelly Tolhurst MP) confirms that the UK was in “a clear majority” voting for the adoption of the Regulation, “with only a small number of Member States voting against [and] a couple abstaining”. She reiterates the Government’s support for “the overall aims” of the Regulation and says that earlier concerns that the ELA might usurp the role of the Administrative Commission for the Coordination of Social Security Systems have been resolved in the final compromise text agreed by the Council.

3.4Four Member States—Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia and Slovakia—submitted bids to host the ELA. Bratislava (Slovakia) received the highest number of votes, based on a set of criteria for selecting the host city which included “geographical balance […], accessibility of the location, and the existence of adequate education and work opportunities for families of the Authority’s staff”. The Minister explains that UK officials met with representatives from all four Member States to discuss their bids in detail as well as their labour enforcement policies. There was collective agreement across Government on the UK’s voting preferences, but the Minister does not disclose how the UK voted.

3.5In our earlier Report agreed on 5 June 2019, we asked the Minister to explain why the role originally envisaged for the ELA in resolving cross-border labour market disruptions had been removed from the final compromise text agreed by the European Parliament and the Council and whether the Government supported its removal. The Minister responds:

The European Parliament did not support the provision on cross-border labour market disruptions. The Council agreed to remove it as part of the compromise package. ln coming to this decision, the Council took account of concerns from a number of Member States, including the UK, about the detail of the provision, including concerns that further definition would be needed. The Government supported this amendment as it removed any ambiguity on [the] ELA’s role in national Member State affairs.

3.6A press release issued after the June EPSCO Council indicates that the ELA will start functioning by the end of 2019 and reach full operational capability by 2023.13

Our Conclusions

3.7We note the Government’s decision to vote for the establishment of the European Labour Authority (“ELA”). The Minister has previously indicated that it would be “advantageous” for the UK to maintain a close relationship with the ELA post-exit, particularly if domestic UK laws remain in alignment with relevant EU laws, whilst making clear that the detailed arrangements would form part of negotiations on the UK’s future economic partnership with the EU.14 We are content to clear the proposed Regulation from scrutiny following its formal adoption by the Council in June but expect the Minister to inform Parliament should the Government seek to negotiate UK participation in the ELA, or establish working arrangements with it, once the UK leaves the EU. We draw this chapter to the attention of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Labour Authority: (39563), 7203/18 + ADDs 1–3, COM(18) 131.

Previous Committee Reports

Sixty-seventh Report HC 301–lxv (2017–19), chapter 2 (5 June 2019), Fifty-ninth Report HC 301–lvii (2017–19), chapter 1 (13 March 2019) and Twenty-fifth Report HC 301–xxiv (2017–19), chapter 1 (25 April 2018).

8 See the Minister’s letter of 8 February 2019 to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee.

9 EURES (the European Employment Services) provides information on labour mobility to workers, jobseekers and businesses in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. It includes job placement schemes run by national governments, such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ ‘Universal Jobmatch’ scheme.

10 The Advisory Committee, which is composed of six members from each Member State, assists the European Commission in the examination of the application of EU law on free movement of workers.

11 The European Platform tackling undeclared work aims to enhance cooperation between EU countries in fighting undeclared work (UDW).

12 The Posted Workers Committee consists of EU-level trade unions and employers’ organisations, as well as Government representatives of the Member States of the EEA. It provides support to Member States in identifying and exchanging experience and good practice, promoting the exchange of relevant information, and examining any questions and difficulties which might arise in the practical application of the posting of workers legislation, as well as its enforcement in practice.

13 Council press release issued on 13 June 2019, European Labour Authority: Council adopts founding Regulation.

14 See the Minister’s letter of 23 May 2019 to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee.

Published: 9 July 2019