Subsidiarity, democratic deficit and posting of workers

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by Professor Alessandra Silveira, Editor

The Lisbon Treaty introduced new contents to the role of national parliaments in the EU decision making process alongside the respect for the principle of subsidiarity by the European institutions. According to article 5, No. 3, TEU under the scope of non-exclusive competences, the Union only intervenes if the objectives of certain action (i) cannot be sufficiently achieved by Member States (efficiency criterion) and (ii) can be better achieved by the EU due to its dimension or intended effects (added value criterion).

So, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, Protocols No. 1 and No. 2 annexed to the treaties allow that national parliaments evaluate the compliance of the European draft legislative acts with the principle of subsidiarity – and if they conclude that there is incompliance, the respective reasoned opinion shall address this understanding. Under the ordinary legislative procedure, if the reasoned opinions represent at least a simple majority of the votes allocated to the national parliaments, the European Commission proposal must be reviewed. It can be amended, withdrawn or sustained (Article 7, No. 3, Protocol No. 2).

Nevertheless, it is important to test the national parliament’s arguments in order to confirm if (i) they have legal grounds to claim the infringement of subsidiarity and (ii) the result of such parliamentary intervention can be regarded as positive to the EU legal system as a whole. Even though this proposed exercise does not compromise, theoretically, the democratic relevance of national parliament’s participation in the EU’s decision making process, it can point out some fragilities concerning (i) the appreciation of the European integration process by national parliamentary authorities and (ii) the adequacy of the EU democratic deficit narrative and the instruments created so far to face it.

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National Parliaments’ yellow card to posted workers reform

Social rights are at the core of current debates on the EU, from budgetary deficit limits to mechanisms fighting unemployment, passing by the “Brexit/Bremain” referendum.

Recently, some national parliaments have expressed their opinions about one relevant aspect to the social model of the EU, the posted workers’ rights which may undergo a revision after the Commission issued a proposal.

Here is a sample of how the parliaments consider the matter.

Eleven EU member states have shown a yellow card to the European Commission over its recent proposal to warrant equal pay to posted workers“, via euobserver.

 

According to several European diplomats, the national parliaments of 11 countries, including Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, have enough votes under EU rules to trigger the “yellow card” procedure against the Commission’s revised new text on so-called “posted workers. It would be only the third time the yellow card procedure has been used since it was set up under the Treaty of Lisbon“, via politico.eu.

 

An attempt by the European Commission to revise the contentious Posted Workers directive is likely to fail, as the national parliaments of at least ten member states from Central and Eastern Europe are reported have used a yellow card to stop the legislation“, via euractiv.

A realpolitik, inside view of the Social Security negotiations in the EU on “Brexit”

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by Elisabete Silveira, Director of Negotiation and Coordination of International Instruments Unit of Directorate-General of Social Security in Portugal

After long and difficult discussions, the Heads of State or Government, meeting within the European Council of 18-19 February 2016, adopted a Decision concerning a New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union.

It will become effective on the date the United Kingdom informs the Council about its decision to remain a member of the EU and will require secondary legislation which the Commission will only propose after a successful referendum. Should the result of the referendum in the UK be for it to leave the EU, the set of arrangements agreed by the European Council will cease to exist.

The Decision covers four sections: Economic Governance, Competitiveness, Sovereignty and Social Benefits and Free Movement.

Focusing only on the last section, it should be noted that, following the taking effect of the Decision, the Commission will submit proposals for amending two important Regulations: Regulation (EC) N.º 883/2004 on coordination of social security schemes and Regulation (EU) N.º 492/2011 on freedom of movement for workers within the EU.

The amendment of Regulation (EC) N.º 883/2004 is intended to give Member States, as regards the “exportation of child benefits to a Member State other than that where the worker resides, an option to index such benefits to the conditions of the Member State where the child resides. This should apply only to new claims made by EU workers in the host Member State. However, as from 1 January 2020, all Member States may extend indexation to existing claims to child benefits already exported by EU workers. The Commission does not intend to propose that the future system of optional indexation of child benefits be extended to other types of exportable benefits, such as old-age pensions.”

These arrangements raise many doubts and perplexities.

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Summary of Francovich – 6/90

by José Ricardo Sousa, student of the Master's degree in EU Law of UMinho

Keywords: social policy; liability; directive implementation; failure to fulfil an obligation; compensation.

Court: CJEU | DateNov. 19th 1991 | Case: 6/90 | Applicants: Andrea Francovich vs Italian Republic

Summary: The Directive 80/897 goal was to assure a minimum protection for all European workers in case of bankruptcy of a company. For this purpose, it predicted specific guarantees for the payment of claims relating to debt remuneration. Italian Government didn’t implement the mentioned policy in time. Mr Francovich and Mrs Bonifaci filed in court arguing that it was the Italian Government’s obligation to implement the Directive 80/897 and so they claimed a state compensation. The national court suspended the case and referred the following questions to CJEU:

“Under the system of Community law in force, is a private individual who has been adversely affected by the failure of a Member State to implement Directive 80/897 — a failure confirmed by a judgment of the Court of Justice — entitled to require the State itself to give effect to those provisions of that directive which are sufficiently precise and unconditional, by directly invoking the Community legislation against the Member State in default so as to obtain the guarantees which that State itself should have provided and in any event to claim reparation of the loss and damage sustained in relation to provisions to which that right does not apply?”

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