Asbestos – Council adoptes General Approach and FIEC publishes its position paper

On 8th December, the Council adopted a General Approach on the revision of the asbestos at work directive. According to this general approach, the Council:
  • supports the occupational exposure limit value (OEL) proposed by the European Commission, that is, 0.01 fibres/cm3 (8-hour time-weighted average),
  • asks to shift from phase-contrast microscopy (PCM) to electron microscopy (EM), as it is more precise and more sensitive,
  • but also introduces a transition period of 7 years for that purpose.
FIEC reacted positively to this announcement.Indeed, in its position paper published at the same time, FIEC stresses that:

  • Focusing ONLY on lowering the OEL will not necessarily ensure that the workers’ protection objective will be achieved in the actual circumstances.
  • In any case, FIEC does not support going lower than the target proposed by the European Commission, namely 0.01 fibres/cm3 (8-hour time weighted average), as asking for a lower OEL at the EU level would not be a realistic target in the present circumstances.
  • While it would be advisable to work with common available and economically accessible measurement methodologies and protocols at the EU level, the transition from Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) to Electron Microscopy (EM) is not an easy and quick step. Moreover, the PCM is still adapted to the OEL proposed by the European Commission.
  • Regardless of the measurement methodology used, a transitional period of at least 4 to 5 years should be ensured in the revision of the directive.
  • Moreover, to achieve stricter objectives, construction companies will need a set of support measures, including: upgraded training to workers, financial support to upgrade technics, processes, etc., better information on asbestos present in buildings, easily accessible and affordable waste treatment facilities, as well as guidance and awareness-raising campaigns.



TEN-T: Council adopts its common position

On 5th December, the Council adopted its common position (general approach) – for future interinstitutional negotiations – regarding the proposed revision of the guidelines for the trans-European transport (TEN-T) network.The Commission proposal places particular focus on a new governance structure for the TEN-T policy and multimodality by setting ambitious goals, in particular for the development of railway infrastructure.

The Council’s position preserves an appropriate level of ambition, which it considers to be is sufficiently high and realistic. It takes into account the available financial resources of the member states, as well as the investment needs for the development of the trans-European transport network.

The European Parliament has yet to define its position on the TEN-T provision, though this is expected in early 2023.



FIEC takes part in EMEcs workshop

On 30th November, FIEC Director for Social Affairs, Christine Le Forestier, participated in a debate on strengthening social protection for posted workers in times of emergency, organised by the European Association of Paritarian Funds (AEIP) in the framework of the EMEcs project.Speakers addressed the added-value of health & safety protocols for continuing the work in the best possible conditions, but also the challenges of rapidly changing and unclear requirements for the companies and grey zones in which posted workers were left, sometimes, during the COVID crisis.

The EASI (the EU Employment and Social Innovation programme) funded EMEcs project aims to understand how posted workers in the construction sector have been affected by the measures introduced by Member States to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, how pandemic related obstacles to posting can be overcome and how workers can be better protected in the future under similar circumstances.



Save the Date – 1st March 2023 – Conference on Social ID Cards

On 1st March 2023, the European Commission will organise a High-level Conference on Social ID Cards. This event will be organised in close cooperation with the European Labour Authority (ELA) and both FIEC and EFBWW – as social partners for the construction industry are involved in the preparation.
This conference will be an opportunity to showcase what is being done at sectoral level in this field.

More information will follow after the Christmas break.