Euro Posting


An inherent tension in transnational processes

For the public authorities

As we have already discussed in the “controlling and supervising” area, the administrative systems which specialise in the fields of labour conditions, employment, social protection and tax systems, as well as in the distribution of roles between the State and the social partners, are very different from one country to another.
These national systems are locally coherent when faced with “internal” situations, but they are challenged by the development of transnational provisions of services.
The areas covered by the labour inspection systems, the organisations implemented to exchange information with other countries, their methods of internal collaboration with other administrations, supervisory practices, legal frameworks and tools and action, strategies vary from one member country to another, and one of the keys to transnational administrative cooperation is found in the interplay of these heterogeneous systems.

For social partners

With respect to the social partners in the construction and agricultural sectors, potential transnational coordination dynamics are also very different from one sector to another.
Although the investment of the European federations in each sector and inter-professional European organisations have developed in a significant way in this respect, their ability to coordinate national target groups nevertheless rests on the way in which the social partners take charge of these issues in the companies and over the territories.
However, the potential of the national social partners to invest in coordination varies greatly from one country to another. It depends on a series of factors, in particular factors tied to the impact of posting on the national economic situation, to competitive strategy for companies and to the collective status of employees.
In the construction sector, several countries have historic practices which are structured at the national level for posting operations; they are most often identifiable and limited in time and space.
In the past few years, the issue of the intervention of foreign companies has thus become a concern for professional and trade union organisations.
In the agricultural sector, depending on the activities concerned, participants find it difficult to characterise the situations.
Between harvesting operations, livestock farming, transformation (meat sector, wood sector) and forestry work etc…, issues are extremely different in the various territories. Forestry Work (France)
Worker mobility on both sides of a border takes various shapes (migration, seasonal work, supply of service), and the issues on which national organisations are mobilised, the context of their actions and their axes of work are different. Consequently, it becomes even more difficult to establish coherency and find ways to coordinate action between the professional or trade union organisations of the different Member States.
Finally, like the public authorities, the social partners run into the difficulty of structuring and coordinating systems with very different participants:
"In each sector, the European social partners in the different sectors represent nationally affiliated organisations operating in different countries, speaking different languages, exposed to different socio-economic realities and with different goals, types of structures and roles in their national system of industrial relations."
(Dynamics of the EUROFOUND European Social Sectorial Dialogue, March 2009.)
The entire project dynamic is thus criss-crossed by tension which is a source of difficulty (but also of opportunity) for the participants.

They must find room to manoeuvre and discover ways to act in an effective and coordinated manner on both sides of the border concerning these situations which are, by nature, transnational, while industrial relations, action strategies, and organisations or administrations which have been built over time according to the economic and social history of each Member State.
Top of page

Identify, analyse and capitalise on emerging transnational practices

The project goal was not to carry out an exhaustive study of the transnational practices concerning posting. At minimum, a working posting operation is a source country which supplies workers and a host country which receives them, and several member countries are frequently involved. One of the basic hypotheses of our approach was therefore that, to be effective in these transnational situations, the participants must change their framework when taking action by looking for synergies on both sides of the border.
Changing the frame of reference implies inventing new ways of doing things and developing new skills, and our project was based on the belief that this creativity was already at work.
The particularity of this process is that expertise is built step by step, by doing and by experimenting using a “trial and error” approach.
This is why we have attempted throughout the year 2013 to discern as closely as possible the ways in which public authorities and social partners develop responses to the issues facing them.
Several action areas were identified:

First, deployment of administrative cooperation within a supra-national legal framework:
At the European level, Article 4 of Directive 96/71 created a basic legal framework with a directly operational impact by imposing obligations on Member States with respect to transnational administrative cooperation (Directive 96/71/EC).
On March 21, 2012, the European Commission adopted a proposition to implement Directive 96 which provides for measures to develop, facilitate, support, promote and improve administrative cooperation beyond the results already obtained.
A transnational tool has been implemented: this is the IMI (Internal Market Information system) pilot application which enables identifying the proper administrative partner in another Member State and communicating with this partner on questions related to posting situations encountered by the administrations making the queries.
The “action sheets” in the “monitoring, controlling” domain describe how the different public authorities involved in the project have taken charge of this context; analytical elements enable shedding light on the evolution of specific and highly supervised “transnational actions” which correspond to administrative cooperation (see analysis “monitoring, controlling”).

Other types of transnational actions have been implemented, either within the context of a transnational legal framework (bilateral agreements between the Member States) or within contexts defined directly between the participants.

Certain practices also aim to move from occasional cooperation to structured and more operational :
- Implementation of operational steering committees within the framework of the implementation of numerous bilateral cooperation agreements

Bilateral agreement (Portugal)

See also the “library of bilateral agreements” available under the “Cooperate” tab on the EURODETACHEMENT site.

- Multilateral cooperation meetings, which are organised among the public authorities of Luxembourg, Belgium France, Poland and Portugal.

- Trade union coordination by European federations, such as the arrangements organised by theEFBWW and ETUI (see the seminars on “posting reality” held in June 2012 in Brussels and on “The Improvement of Health and Safety Conditions for Migrant Workers in the Construction and Wood Sectors” held in June 2013 in Zagreb).

- Twinning pacts, such as the one drawn up by the Hungarian Mesz and Padosz unions from the Paks power plant and the unions from the EPR Flamanville power plant on March 21, 2013.

twinning pact

Others aim to sensitise participants transnationally or to inform them of legal frameworks with:
- the joint site of the EFBWW-FIEC social partners in construction or the stop social dumping site implemented by the EFBWW to denounce abuses.

- Action carried out on both sides of their borders by the FGA CFDT in France and the NFZGS Podkrepa organisation in Bulgaria, which is an innovative and highly informative initiative

France-Bulgaria Trade Union Information Strategy

Still others aim to improve administrative cooperation to make it more operational (exchange of officers with immersion periods inside the “host” administrations, controls coordinated between several public administrations, sharing of tools to aid in supervision, meetings to assess cooperation implementation)

Bilateral agreements Luxembourg

European projects:
- aim to formulate recommendations as was the case for the CIBELES project, which brought together nine labour inspectorates in Belgium, Malta, Hungary, France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

The CIBELES project

- organise areas or exchange and transnational training like the present project (ten countries involved) or the precedent EURODETACHEMENT 2010-2011 project involving the labour administrations is six member countries in Europe (Belgium, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal) .


Top of page

These approaches encourage the transnational learning process by developing the sharing of knowledge and skills acquired

The transnational workshops carried out during the project enabled participants to define a few “directional axes” allowing to better ascertain the obstacles and facilitators involved in these emerging practices and to establish some modest methodological milestones offered by the “cases” analysed in the workgroups.
A learning process is being developed in the posting area, and we can currently identify some of the steps, which do not occur linearly but, more often, simultaneously.
The particularity of this process is that participants have only partial knowledge and skills (attached to their territory) and that know-how is built like a puzzle through sharing the knowledge of partners in each member country.
The starting point is the growing awareness by participants that in these types of situations, they cannot act alone at the national level.
This realisation takes place slowly, but the approach we have carried out with the EURODETACHEMENT projects since 2010 has enabled us to measure that it nonetheless evolves in a significant way for the public authorities and social partners involved in posting, or, more generally, in the combat against fraud.

Understanding this “interdependence” results from a sometimes difficult examination of the impact of actions carried out in order to identify their flaws and limits (need to anticipate for large operations, difficulty of grasping a complex situation, non-coordinated actions by different participants, requests for information by a public authority which have been misunderstood by the authority receiving the request, criminal or civil action without effect, divergence on the legal interpretation of a situation, impossibility of carrying out investigations for a required authority, etc…).
The “reflexive appreciation” built from feedback allows identifying “what is causing a problem” in interactions between participants on both sides of a border when this identification is based on concrete cases.
This joint approach oriented toward solving problems encourages a comparison of legal frameworks (in terms of comparative law), respective organisations, roles and competencies, legal tools, means of action and methods of investigation.
It implies becoming familiar with the other party’s legal notions, as well as understanding the meaning of words and terms used to report on and describe a situation and explain the action carried out, its purpose and goals and the means used to achieve these.
Mutual comprehension of the specific ways of acting by each partner is slowly increasing, along with a broader reciprocal comprehension of the national economic and social issues of each Member State in the areas studied.
“Pooled knowledge which can be shared and a body of knowledge” can thus be gradually built through these interactions, which enable each partner to acquire a better understanding of the transnational context within which he or she acts and the diversity of situations in which he or she is involved.
This transnational learning allows individual partners to adapt their personal practices and put them in line with and complement the means available to other partners.
It will then be possible to build areas of mutual trust for establishing room to manoeuvre, sharing information and data and developing collaborations which will be more fully elaborated and long-lasting.
Top of page

Impact on the partner systems and their ability to improve Directive effectiveness

Although the project has enabled observing that the evolution of these practices adapted to the new frame of reference is already underway, they nevertheless remain fragile.
“Acting transnationally” in the posting area is still embryonic.
The outcome of the next few years will depend on the ability of collective organisations, whether public authorities or social partners, to integrate this transnational dimension, measure the impact of their new approach and master what they have learned from these experiences.
Top of page