Advertisement

Era Forum

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 356–370 | Cite as

Free movement of workers, free movement of services and the posted workers directive: a Bermuda triangle for national labour standards?

  • Marc De Vos
Article

Conclusion

Against the backdrop of EU enlargement and the ill-fated Services Directive, the interaction between free movement of workers and free movement of services has gained substantial interest in academia, legal practice, business and beyond. The topical and sensitive debate as to whether European integration and the internal market will work as a Trojan horse to Old Europe’s highly regulated labour markets and costly welfare states is exemplified by the issue of transnational posting of workers and applicable labour standards.

After an initial blank check inRush Portuguesa the ECJ has backtracked and developed an intricate balancing act that permits a conditional application of host country labour standards whilst maintaining unfettered free movement as a crowning principle of Europe’s internal market. The balancing is essentially to be performed by the competent national judge or authority who, under the ECJ’s guidance, must ascertain on a case-by-case basis whether the imposed application of national law to a transnational services provider is justified by an overriding public interest. The task is far from menial, since it requires both a legal and a factual comparison of labour standards in both the country of origin and the host country, as well as a creative brainstorm on proportionality and necessity.

As a result, the Posted Workers Directive and its national implementations can only be deemed compatible with the TEC’s free movement of services to the extent that their application in a particular case indeed survives the requisite balancing. It is by no means a perfectly clear or predictable situation, but one that leaves room for flexibility and succeeds in what the so-called “European Social Model” should probably stand for: a combination of both free competition and social protection, not the domination of one over the other. The combination of free movement of workers, free movement of services and the Posted Workers Directive is not a Bermuda triangle for national labour standards. But it is not their guardian angel either.

Keywords

Service Provider Host Country Minimum Wage Free Movement National Court 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    W. van Eeckhoutte, “The Rome Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations and Labour Law (1980)”, in: R. Blanpain (ed.), Freedom of Services in the European Union, Kluwer Law International, 2006.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Case C-113/89Rush Portuguesa [1990] ECR I-1417Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A. Supiot (ed.), Au-delà de l’emploi; transformations du travail et devenir du droit du travail en Europe, Rapport à la Commission européenne, Flammarion, Paris, 1999.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Commission of the European Communities, Report on the Functioning of the Transitional Arrangements set out in the 2003 Accession Treaty (period 1 May 2004–30 April 2006), 2006.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Case 66/85Lawrie-Blum [1986] ECR 2121Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Case C-107/94Asscher v Staatssecretaris van Financiën [1996] ECR I-3089, paragraph 26.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Case C-337/97Meeusen [1999] ECR I-3289.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Case C-256/01Allonby [2004] ECR I-873.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Case C-256/01Allonby [2004] ECR I-873.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Case C-1 13/89Rush Portuguesa [1990] ECR I-1417.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Case C-113/89Rush Portuguesa [1990] ECR I-1417, paragraph 18.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Art. 3 Directive 96/71/EC.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    L. Daniele, “Non-Discriminatory Restrictions to the Free Movement of Persons”, (1997) 22 E.L.Rev. pp. 191–200Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    Case C-76/90Säger [1991] ECR I-4221Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    K. Lenaerts andP. Van Nuffel, Constitutional Law of the European Union, Sweet & Maxwell, 2005, pp. 234–236.Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    M. De Vos, “European Social Dialogue and European Competition Law: an Inherent Contradiction?”, in:M. De Vos (ed.), A Decade Beyond Maastricht: The European Social Dialogue Revisited, The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 2003, 53–87Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    Case C-43/93Vander Elst [1994] ECR I-3803Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Case C-445/03Commission v. Luxembourg [2004] ECR I-10191.Google Scholar
  20. 23.
    case-law mention in note 20, above.Google Scholar
  21. 24.
    inter alia, Cases C-369/96 and C-376/96Arblade and Leloup [1999] ECR I-8453; joined Cases C-49/98, C-50/98, C-52/98 to C-54/98 and C-68/98 to C-71/98Finalarte [2001] ECR I-7831.Google Scholar
  22. 25.
    inter alia, Cases C-369/96 and C-376/96Arblade and Leloup [1999] ECR I-8453.Google Scholar
  23. 26.
    Joined Cases C-49/98, C-50/98, C-52/98 to C-54/98 and C-68/98 to C-71/98Finalarte [2001] ECR I-7831; Case C-164/99Portugaia [2002] ECR I-787; compare Case 352/85Bond van Adverteerders and Others [1988] ECR 2085; Case C-398/95SETTG [1997] ECR I-3091.Google Scholar
  24. 27.
    Case C-445/03Commission v. Luxembourg [2004] ECR 10191.Google Scholar
  25. 28.
    Case C-60/03Wolff & Müller [2004] ECR I-9553, paragraph 41.Google Scholar
  26. 29.
    Joined Cases C-49/98, C-50/98, C-52/98 to C-54/98 and C-68/98 to C-71/98Finalarte [2001] ECR I-7831; Case C-164/99Portugaia [2002] ECR I-787; Case C-60/03Wolff & Müller [2004] ECR I-9553.Google Scholar
  27. 30.
    Joined Cases C-49/98, C-50/98, C-52/98 to C-54/98 and C-68/98 to C-71/98Finalarte [2001] ECR I-7831; Case C-164/99Portugaia [2002] ECR I-787; Case C-60/03Wolff & Müller [2004] ECR I-9553.Google Scholar
  28. 31.
    inter alia, Cases C-369/96 and C-376/96Arblade and Leloup [1999] ECR I-8453; Case C-165/98Mazzoleni [2001] I-2189; Case C-164/99Portugaia [2002] ECR I-787; Case C-60/03Wolff & Müller [2004] ECR I-9553.Google Scholar
  29. 32.
    Case C-165/98Mazzoleni [2001] ECR I-2189; Case C-164/99Portugaia [2002] ECR I-787; Case C-60/03Wolff & Müller [2004] ECR I-9553.Google Scholar
  30. 33.
    Case C-341/02Commission v. Germany [2005] ECR I-2733.Google Scholar
  31. 34.
    Joined Cases C-49/98, C-50/98, C-52/98 to C-54/98 and C-68/98 to C-71/98Finalarte [2001] ECR I-7831.Google Scholar
  32. 35.
    Case C-445/03Commission v. Luxembourg [2004] ECR I-10191.Google Scholar
  33. 36.
    Case C-445/03Commission v. Luxembourg [2004] ECR I-10191; Case C-244/04Commission v. Germany [2006] ECR I-885Google Scholar
  34. 37.
    Case C-43/93Vander Elst [1994] ECR I-3803.Google Scholar
  35. 38.
    Joined Cases C-49/98, C-50/98, C-52/98 to C-54/98 and C-68/98 to C-71/98Finalarte [2001] ECR I-7831.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc De Vos
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Ghent University Law SchoolBelgium
  2. 2.Lontings & PartnersBelgium

Personalised recommendations