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Online platforms: Economic and societal effects

10-03-2021

Online platforms such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook play an increasingly central role in the economy and society. They operate as digital intermediaries across interconnected sectors and markets subject to network effects. These firms have grown to an unprecedented scale, propelled by data-driven business models. Online platforms have a massive impact on individual users and businesses, and are recasting the relationships between customers, advertisers, workers, and employers. This has triggered ...

Online platforms such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook play an increasingly central role in the economy and society. They operate as digital intermediaries across interconnected sectors and markets subject to network effects. These firms have grown to an unprecedented scale, propelled by data-driven business models. Online platforms have a massive impact on individual users and businesses, and are recasting the relationships between customers, advertisers, workers, and employers. This has triggered a public debate on online platforms’ economic dominance and patterns of pervasive data collection. The report provides evidence of positive impact, and documents a set of important issues not fully addressed by existing European regulation and enforcement. The consensus is that there is a need to strengthen the current law enforcement and regulation of the platform economy. This report welcomes the proposed Digital Markets and Digital Services Acts, and offers a series of policy options for competition and innovation, working conditions and labour markets, consumer and societal risks, and environmental sustainability.

Extern avdelning

DG, EPRS_This study has been written by Professor Annabelle Gawer, Surrey Business School, University of Surrey (main author), Dr Nick Srnicek, King's College London, at the request of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.

WTO rules: Compatibility with human and labour rights

04-03-2021

Supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU's trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. WTO rules require members to comply with a set of basic free trading principles, in particular national treatment and most-favoured ...

Supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU's trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. WTO rules require members to comply with a set of basic free trading principles, in particular national treatment and most-favoured nation status. When a member wishes to take a trade-affecting measure that departs from WTO rules, they can justify the action on the basis of general exceptions. Whereas there is no specific provision in the WTO rules on human rights, according to case law and precedents, the general exception can sometimes allow trade-restricting measures based on human rights concerns. Yet, the open nature of WTO-rules means that members must devise trade-restrictive measures carefully, and that the dispute settlement process can involve complex legal interpretation if litigation arises. The uncertainty surrounding the compatibility between WTO rules and human and labour rights is attracting growing attention, generating calls for WTO reform. Another WTO framework that has been the subject of a long-standing debate on whether its flexibility provisions are sufficient to protect human rights and in particular the right to health is the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the debate has refocused on the need to waive some TRIPS provisions. This briefing provides an overview of complex issues relating to human rights and WTO rules. It does not argue for a specific interpretation or position, and does not attempt to bring final clarification on aspects still disputed among legal experts.

Migrant seasonal workers in the European agricultural sector

26-02-2021

The EU fruit and vegetable sector is heavily dependent on a non-national labour force, either from other EU Member States or third countries. Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Poland, in particular, employ high numbers of migrant seasonal farm workers. While these numbers have been steadily increasing, they compensate only partly for the ongoing decline in national agricultural workforces. Migrant seasonal workers from the EU are entitled to fully equal treatment with nationals of the host country ...

The EU fruit and vegetable sector is heavily dependent on a non-national labour force, either from other EU Member States or third countries. Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Poland, in particular, employ high numbers of migrant seasonal farm workers. While these numbers have been steadily increasing, they compensate only partly for the ongoing decline in national agricultural workforces. Migrant seasonal workers from the EU are entitled to fully equal treatment with nationals of the host country under the fundamental right to the free movement of workers within the EU, whereas third-country nationals are covered by the Seasonal Workers Directive of 2014, which grants them equal treatment as regards terms of employment and some social benefits. EU Member States manage their own seasonal worker schemes depending on the needs of the domestic labour market, their ties with third countries and their broader immigration system. The reality of seasonal agricultural work is a harsh one, with generally poor working and living conditions. Undocumented migrants, but also legal ones, can fall victim to illegal gang-master practices or even modern forms of slavery. Exploitation of women occurs in certain regions. The coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted harvests in the spring of 2020 as seasonal workers faced travel restrictions, also highlighted their essential role in EU agriculture and laid bare their sometimes appalling working and living conditions. Reacting to this situation, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the protection of seasonal workers in June 2020, calling on Member States to ensure proper implementation of the relevant EU legislation and on the European Commission to issue new specific guidelines and propose long-term solutions to fight abusive practices and protect victims. In July 2020, the Commission responded to this call by issuing new guidelines on the protection of seasonal workers in the context of the pandemic, announcing further action, including ongoing work with the European Labour Authority.

Research for CULT Committee - The Situation of Artists and Cultural Workers and the post-COVID-19 Cultural Recovery in the European Union - Background Analysis

01-02-2021

This background analysis on the situation of artists and cultural workers and the post-COVID-19 cultural recovery in the European Union is prepared for the European Parliament. It provides an overview of key characteristics of artists' and cultural workers’ status across Europe, their working conditions, precariousness and career paths. It outlines the justification for specific policy solutions and provides a mapping of key challenges for a European framework for working conditions in the cultural ...

This background analysis on the situation of artists and cultural workers and the post-COVID-19 cultural recovery in the European Union is prepared for the European Parliament. It provides an overview of key characteristics of artists' and cultural workers’ status across Europe, their working conditions, precariousness and career paths. It outlines the justification for specific policy solutions and provides a mapping of key challenges for a European framework for working conditions in the cultural and creative sectors and industries.

Extern avdelning

Dr Mafalda DÂMASO Culture Action Europe: Tere BADIA, Gabriele ROSANA, Kornelia KISS, Sebastiano BERTAGNI, Maya WEISINGER

Adequate minimum wages

19-01-2021

This briefing finds that the European Commission's impact assessment (IA), which accompanies the directive proposal on adequate minimum wages, is based on sound data and presents a sufficiently broad range of policy options. It would have been useful if the measures concerning collective bargaining and adequacy of minimum wages had been explained more thoroughly in relation to the chosen legal basis. The problem description would have benefited of using more information from the extensive annexes ...

This briefing finds that the European Commission's impact assessment (IA), which accompanies the directive proposal on adequate minimum wages, is based on sound data and presents a sufficiently broad range of policy options. It would have been useful if the measures concerning collective bargaining and adequacy of minimum wages had been explained more thoroughly in relation to the chosen legal basis. The problem description would have benefited of using more information from the extensive annexes. It would have clarified the text if the IA had provided the comparative analysis and selection of the preferred option separately for both minimum wage setting systems (collective agreements and legal provisions).

The Proposed Minimum Wage Directive

24-11-2020

Following a two-stage consultation of social partners launched in February 2020, on 28 October, the European Commission published its proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages in the European Union.

Following a two-stage consultation of social partners launched in February 2020, on 28 October, the European Commission published its proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages in the European Union.

Fair minimum wages in the EU - Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission's initiative

26-10-2020

This briefing forms part of an EPRS series offering syntheses of the pre-legislative state of play and consultation on key European Commission priorities during the current five-year term. It summarises the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examines how existing policy is working on the ground, and, where possible, identifies best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of European system of multilevel governance. Based on EPRS analysis ...

This briefing forms part of an EPRS series offering syntheses of the pre-legislative state of play and consultation on key European Commission priorities during the current five-year term. It summarises the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examines how existing policy is working on the ground, and, where possible, identifies best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of European system of multilevel governance. Based on EPRS analysis, partner organisations at European, national, regional and local levels point to the following main considerations that they consider should shape discussion of the forthcoming initiative on fair minimum wages for workers in the EU: • There are fears regarding the implications of the EU initiative for the respective national systems, with the various stakeholders suggesting a cautious approach as part of what could prove to be a long-term discussion. A complex differentiated approach with several safeguards, adapted to the respective systems in place, would appear to be key to avoiding an initiative with only minimal ambitions. • A broad consensus is observed regarding the need to reinforce the social partners; strengthening social dialogue and promoting collective bargaining should be used as an opportunity to explore ambitious measures in this area. • The unresolved debate on the effects of higher minimum wages on the economy and employment situation underlines the need for detailed and regular analysis, including by means of greater use of impact assessment tools. This would be valuable in order to prevent negative consequences and demonstrate the added value of EU action. • Some specific (complementary) instruments deserve to be considered, such as the country-specific recommendations of the European Semester and public procurement procedures.

The scope of EU labour law: Who is (not) covered by key directives?

26-10-2020

This in-depth analysis examines the current EU labour law instruments for workers’ protection and highlights existing gaps in coverage which may require further action. It analyses a selection of directives in order to determine how non-standard workers are often excluded from their scope of application, and the extent to which newer instruments account for a broader variety of employment relationships. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life ...

This in-depth analysis examines the current EU labour law instruments for workers’ protection and highlights existing gaps in coverage which may require further action. It analyses a selection of directives in order to determine how non-standard workers are often excluded from their scope of application, and the extent to which newer instruments account for a broader variety of employment relationships. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies for the committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL).

Textile workers in developing countries and the European fashion industry: Towards sustainability?

24-07-2020

As fashion becomes increasingly globalised, garment and footwear production has shifted to low-wage, mostly Asian countries. Thanks to lower manufacturing costs, clothes have become increasingly affordable for European consumers. For developing countries, fashion exports create jobs and growth, helping to bring poverty rates down. While there are benefits on both sides, the fashion industry highlights inequalities between the global North and South. With almost unlimited flexibility between countries ...

As fashion becomes increasingly globalised, garment and footwear production has shifted to low-wage, mostly Asian countries. Thanks to lower manufacturing costs, clothes have become increasingly affordable for European consumers. For developing countries, fashion exports create jobs and growth, helping to bring poverty rates down. While there are benefits on both sides, the fashion industry highlights inequalities between the global North and South. With almost unlimited flexibility between countries and factories, European and North American brands and retailers can dictate conditions to developing-country manufacturers, forcing them to cut costs in order to compete. The ultimate victims are factory workers, toiling long hours in harsh and sometimes dangerous conditions, for wages that barely enable subsistence. In many countries, restrictions on trade unions make it harder for workers to assert their rights. With employers reluctant or financially unable to invest in safety, many have died in industrial accidents, such as the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, which claimed over 1 000 lives. Decent work has become a priority for the United Nations, the International Labour Organization and other international organisations. The EU supports decent work, for example through its international trade agreements. European consumers and companies are also increasingly interested in sustainable fashion. After the Rana Plaza disaster, over 200 mostly European companies joined the Bangladesh Accord, which has helped to eliminate some of the worst safety hazards. While these are positive developments, a lot more still needs to be done.

Road transport: Enforcement and special provisions for posted workers

07-07-2020

The EU has established a range of social measures applicable to the road transport sector, which aim at improving drivers' working conditions, road safety and competition. To give real substance to these measures, compliance is key. The 2006 Enforcement Directive was therefore adopted to effectively implement the social provisions of the Driving Time Regulation. The present proposal, published in the context of the European Commission's 2017 'Europe on the move' initiative, seeks to remedy some shortcomings ...

The EU has established a range of social measures applicable to the road transport sector, which aim at improving drivers' working conditions, road safety and competition. To give real substance to these measures, compliance is key. The 2006 Enforcement Directive was therefore adopted to effectively implement the social provisions of the Driving Time Regulation. The present proposal, published in the context of the European Commission's 2017 'Europe on the move' initiative, seeks to remedy some shortcomings of the Enforcement Directive, such as non-uniform implementation. Additionally, it puts forward specific rules on the posting of workers in the road sector, to respond to concerns raised regarding the inadequacy of the Posting of Workers Directive, when applied to the road transport sector. The European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) adopted its report in June 2018. After further debates and procedural developments, the Parliament adopted its first-reading position on 4 April 2019. The Council agreed a general approach in December 2018, under the Austrian Presidency. After four rounds of negotiations, Parliament and Council reached provisional agreement on the proposal on 12 December 2019, subsequently approved by Coreper on 20 December. The Council formally adopted its first-reading position on 7 April 2020, and on 8 June the TRAN committee recommended Parliament approve it at second reading. The agreed text thus returns to plenary in July for a final vote at second reading. Its adoption would put an end to three years of debate on a complex and controversial proposal. Sixth edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Kommande evenemang

27-09-2021
Turning the tide on cancer: the national parliaments' view on Europe's Cancer Plan
Övrigt -
BECA
27-09-2021
US trade policy
Utfrågning -
INTA
27-09-2021
Consumer protection and automated decision-making tools in a modern economy
Utfrågning -
IMCO

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