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11 Mar 2024

Fabien Cazenave, Ouest-France

EU countries adopt platform work directive

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"At long last, EU countries adopt the platform work directive"

EU countries finally adopted the platform work directive at a meeting of the bloc’s labour ministers on Monday (11 March), after Estonia and Greece, which had abstained in the past, voted in favour “in the spirit of compromise”...

The directive now needs to be formally ratified in the Council and the European Parliament plenary – which should not cause any issues. Countries will then have two years to integrate the piece of legislation into their own national systems...

In more than two years of negotiations, the platform work directive – the first ever proposal by the EU to regulate the gig economy across the bloc – had turned into one of the most contentious EU files.

Negotiators from the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU agreed a watered-down version of the directive in early February – which the member states voted down twice in the past month as Paris, Tallinn, Athens, and Berlin opposed it.

Adding a further twist ahead of another negative vote of EU ambassadors last Friday (8 March), France sowed disarray by circulating a set of changes it wanted to make to the text, ultimately creating a significant carve-out to the application of the directive’s key new mechanism, the legal presumption of employment.

This novel mechanism initially looked to harmonise reclassification processes through which self-employed platform workers could become full-time employees, with all accompanying rights, if a subordinate relationship with the platform was established.

Under the February provisional agreement, however, criteria to be used to indicate subordination were deleted from the text, and member states were only obliged to create a presumption of employment in their national systems so that its implementation would make it easier for workers to be considered for reclassification than the status quo.

On Monday, Germany abstained due to domestic coalition infighting. France, meanwhile, said it would withhold its vote until further legal clarifications were provided by the Commission – but other sceptical countries did not follow suit, leaving the EU’s two largest countries isolated.