LUXEMBOURG, October 17, 2014 - Meeting in Luxembourg on 16 October, EU employment ministers adopted the position on the proposal that sets up an EU platform to address the issue of undeclared work. This paves the way to starting negotiations with the European Parliament.
The platform would bring together the European Commission and EU national authorities responsible for combating undeclared work, such as labour inspectorates or tax authorities.
They would exchange information and best practices, especially in cross-border situations where it is difficult to identify and penalise undeclared work.
The platfom would involve all member states. The general approach adopted by the Council makes sure, however, that EU countries are free to determine their level of involvement in the platform's initiatives. They are also free to decide how to carry the results of the platform's initiatives into effect.
The platform could evolve over time into a body that also promotes training for staff from various countries and joint cross-border inspections.
As there is currently no EU-level cooperation between national authorities fighting against cross-border undeclared work, the platform would fill that vacuum.
Undeclared work in figures
- €200 - an average amount every European spends yearly on undeclared goods and services
- €300 - the median yearly income from undeclared work
- 1 in 9 Europeans (11%) say they have purchased goods or services involving undeclared work last year
- 15% to 20% of the European GDP is an estimate of the shadow economy
Source: Eurobarometer survey, 'Undeclared work in the European Union'
The agreement reached by the Council enables it to start negotiations with the European Parliament.
Press release on the Council's position on EU platform against undeclared work PDF
Review of Europe 2020 strategy
The Council also held a policy debate on the forthcoming review of Europe's 2020 strategy. Launched in 2010, the strategy set five targets on jobs, poverty reduction, education, innovation, and climate and energy to be reached by 2020. These targets include, among others:
- 75% of people aged 20-64 in employment
- 20 million fewer people at risk of poverty
In their discussions, ministers agreed that the meeting of these goals was slowed down or prevented by the crisis and the ensuing recession. They also identified tweaks and improvements to make sure that the EU comes close to the targets by the end of the decade. They agreed on a number of issues:
the need for a better coordination of economic, fiscal and social policies
the need to boost human capital by giving young people training and making it easier for older people to find jobs
EU initiatives, like the youth employment initiative, must be fully implemented
social partners and parlaments have to have their say on new social and employment measures
The results of ministers' discussions will feed into a report that the Italian presidency will present to EU leaders in December. The report will give the European Commission guidance on improving the strategy's implementation.
The Commission launched a public consultation on the review of the strategy in May and is expected to make specific proposals in early 2015.
Other topics on the agenda
During the meeting, EU ministers discussed a number of other issues, including;
- preparations for the upcoming Tripartite Social Summit on 23 October
- results of the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial meeting held on 10-11 September in Melbourne
Council of the European Union/Luxembourg
Photo source: Council of the European Union