Member States fail to give enough backing to EU’s provisional deal on gig worker rights

The recent political deal announced in the EU, aimed at strengthening the rights of platform workers across the European Union, has hit a roadblock as it has not secured the necessary qualified majority backing among Member States. The European Council, in a brief update to their earlier press release, revealed that the Belgian presidency will now resume negotiations with the European Parliament in order to reach an agreement on the final shape of the directive.

The deal was met with resistance from Member States, with no formal vote being held on the text as it became clear there would be no majority. Several Member States, including the Baltics, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, and Italy, formally rejected the deal, citing that the deal was too far off from the Council’s version of the directive.

The recent failure to secure the political deal has been attributed to France, with the parliament’s co-rapporteur blaming French President Emmanuel Macron for the opposition to the deal. If the file is forced back into the EU’s three-way lawmaking negotiation process, known as trilogues, it could come with added complications due to the looming European elections.

A failure to find a way forward on the file in the coming months could leave the gig worker labor reform at the mercy of reconfigured political priorities under a new European Commission and parliament. The Spanish government has blamed conservative and liberal governments for blocking the reform, while urging that it will continue to defend an ambitious directive that improves the situation of workers on digital platforms.

The provisional deal on the file was heralded as historic and ambitious, aiming to move the burden of proof for precarious gig workers and stop them from being falsely deemed to be self-employed. However, the disagreement centers on the issue of legal presumption, particularly regarding the criteria that trigger the presumption of employment between a gig worker and a platform.

The Council’s position, which was reached back in June, required at least three of the seven criteria set out in the directive to be met for the employment presumption to be triggered. The now failed provisional deal had lowered the threshold to two out of five. This threshold change, along with the reluctance to expand the list of criteria, has been a major point of contention that led to the deal’s rejection.

As the negotiations continue, it remains to be seen how the EU will address the concerns raised by the Member States and if a compromise can be reached to bolster the rights of platform workers across the European Union.


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