Juncker 2017 State of the Union speech

On 13th September, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his 2017 State of the Union speech. He presented his priorities for the year ahead and outlined his vision for the future of the European Union, based on freedom, equality and the rule of law. “The wind is back in Europe’s sails. But we will go nowhere unless we catch that wind”, declared Juncker.
In particular, he presented a roadmap for a “more united, stronger and more democratic” Union.
In fact, this roadmap does not present many new actions compared to the many on-going initiatives that are already part of the Commission’s work programme. We can however highlight the following ones:

  • creation of a European Labour Authority by the end of 2018, which would guarantee the adherence to European Union rules on labour mobility;
  • a new industrial strategy for Europe which would focus on innovation, digitalisation and decarbonisation;
  • a new framework for the screening of foreign direct investment in the EU, e.g. strategic infrastructure, on public order and security grounds. 


Eurofound research on “fraudulent practices”

Fraudulent practices in the field of work have significant consequences for labour markets, economies and social cohesion. The misuse of employment relations to sidestep regulations is a concern for employers, trade unions and governments. It affects competition, labour market integration, social protection and working conditions.
Eurofound has carried out research on fraudulent forms of contracting in 8 countries : Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Spain and the UK.
In particular, the analysis explored the impact of five forms of fraudulent contracting involving the rights of workers and businesses, namely :

  • bogus self-employment
  • abusing fixed-term contracts
  • abuse of “posting” of workers
  • letterbox companies
  • abuse of traineeship status.

You can access the study by clicking on the button below.


Further money pulled from the Connecting Europe Facility to feed into the “Juncker Investment Plan”

On the night before President Juncker’s State of the Union speech, the Parliament and the Council came to a political agreement on the extension in duration and capacity of the “Investment Plan for Europe”, one year after it was proposed.
The agreement is based on a compromise on the financing terms for the increase – from €16 to €26 billion – in the public guarantee provided by the the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
Although the Parliament did not want more money to be taken from existing budget lines, it has finally agreed that €275 million can be taken from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and €25 million from the Marguerite energy and climate fund, sparing the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research from any cuts.
In line with the initial position of the Parliament, FIEC advocated that the CEF should not be used to finance the EFSI, as it would be detrimental to transport and energy infrastructure projects which require EU grants.
This agreement has to be confirmed at a forthcoming inter-institutional negotiation session to be held early October, so that Parliament can approve it in its plenary session by the end of October.


Mixed reaction to EPBD amendments

FIEC is currently finalising its reaction to almost 1000 amendments to the proposal to revise the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD), from both the ITRE and ENVI committees in the European Parliament.  FIEC supported the original draft report from the ITRE Rapporteur, Bendt Bendtsen and believes that some of the amendments from both committees improve aspects of the text of the proposal which were not clear. Obviously, the federation supports any amendments that are in line with its position, published in March 2017.

Problem areas arising from the amendments include the duplication of indicators that are covered by the new DG ENV voluntary assessment framework, Level(s); oversimplified solutions for renovation; preferences shown for specific technologies and the inclusion of additional aspects in Energy Performance Certificates. FIEC expects to communicate further on the amendments in the coming days.