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De Brún quizzes EU Commissioner designate Frattini on workers rights

16 November, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún today quizzed European Commissioner designate for Civil Liberties, Justice and Homes Affairs, Franco Frattini, on the need to protect workers rights across the EU. The exchange took place during Frattini's hearing in front of the Legal Affairs committee at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Speaking after the hearing Ms de Brún said:

"There is a growing harmonisation of the internal market within the EU. This has not been accompanied by an upward harmonisation of laws governing workers' rights and social protections. There is clearly a contradiction between a growing internal market and a very weak harmonisation of labour, commercial, private and contract law by member states.

"The European Parliament is currently dealing with a new directive on services and the internal market. One aspect of this is known as the country of origin principle. If enacted as EU law this could have detrimental impact on social protection and worker' legal rights, and see a lowering of legal protections across the EU.

"I asked the proposed commissioner for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs how he intends to deal with this potential clash and the negative impact it could have on employees across the EU member states.

"Clearly there is an imbalance between the deepening harmonisation of competition and market regulations within the EU on the one hand, and the slow pace of adequate protection for workers on the other. This is an issue of significant importance and must be dealt with as a matter of urgency. " ENDS

Note to Editor:

The country of origin principle would allow companies to operate within the labour relations framework of the member state where their head office is located, irrespective of the consequences for workers located within other member states. There are fears that companies could then move head office to the member states with the lowest level of worker's protection while continuing to operate in other member states.

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