Magazine article European Social Policy

Free Movement of Services : Judges Strike Down German Restrictions on Polish Workers

Magazine article European Social Policy

Free Movement of Services : Judges Strike Down German Restrictions on Polish Workers

Article excerpt

Up until now, only German companies operating in German districts with high unemployment rates have been allowed to subcontract Polish workers. This option was not available to foreign companies based in Germany. However, this restriction is discriminatory and cannot be justified, says a verdict issued by the EU Court of Justice, on 21 January.

The European Commission brought the case (C-546-07, EC versus Germany) before the court and said that by preventing foreign companies from EU countries other than Germany to hire Polish workers, Germany failed to fulfil its obligation to ensure the freedom to provide services. The Commission, supported by Poland, also said that Germany breached the standstill' clause laid down in the 2003 Accession Treaty by extending the regional restrictions on access to labour markets.

Following the EU's 2004 enlargement, some member states, including Germany, put in place transitional arrangements for workers from the new member states. These restrictions may be kept so long as Germany applies national measures or measures resulting from bilateral agreements to ensure the free movement of Polish workers. Furthermore, the transitional arrangements "may not result in conditions for the temporary movement of workers [...] which are more restrictive than those in force on the date on which the Treaty of Accession was signed ( standstill' clause)".

The 1990 German-Polish agreement stipulates that work permits are, in principle, to be issued to Polish workers who are detached for temporary work on a contract between a Polish employer and an German company (Germany is referred to as from the other side' in the agreement), regardless of the situation and trends of the labour market. …

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