This week the European Labour Authority started its activities. After two years of negotiations, one of the main features of the European Pillar of Social Rights is now operational, with its headquarter in Bratislava and an array of tasks that makes of it a relevant piece in one of the EU’s most sensitive domains: labour mobility and protection of workers.
The European Labour Authority is a Union body with legal personality (its Regulation is available here), and its tasks are mostly focused on the coordination of Member States and the provision of information on labour mobility. The Authority does not have significant and autonomous decision-making powers, but it will play a relevant role in the enhancement of Member State cooperation and resolution of potential conflicts. In fact, the Authority has mediation powers in disputes among Member States, it will be a depository of information on mobility that will ensure the effective application of Union law in all Member States, and it can arrange joint inspections, as well as participate in them with Member States in their territory. The first step in the creation of a truly social authority at an EU level has been made, at a time in which new social security coordination rules, as well as the latest amendments to the posted workers’ Directive, will require unparalleled degrees of Member State coordination in the field of social policy.
The Authority will also give voice to social partners and rely on them not only at the decision-making level, but also in the implementation of policy decisions. Social partners will be a key part of the Authority’s success, and their participation in the Authority’s activities will require Union-level organization among worker and employer representation bodies.
Overall, the European Labour Authority fills in an institutional gap in the field of social policy that the EU had left untackled for far too long. Its tasks are significant, but so are the challenges ahead.