In an open letter European sector employers’ associations Ceemet – European Tech & Industry Employers, Geopa – Employers’ Group of Professional Agricultural Organisations, ECEG – European Chemical Employers Group and EuroCommerce reacted to the European Court of Justice’s ruling 'EPSU vs. European Commission' of 2 September 2021. 

To the Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis & Commissioner for Jobs, Nicolas Schmit

The European employers’ associations would like to express their opinion on:

  • the European Commission’s decision not to submit an agreement reached between the EU level social partners representing the public services’ sector for implementation as a Directive and
  • the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ)[1] confirming that the Commission’s decision is in line with the wording of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).

The decision of the Commission and the ruling of the ECJ in this respect call into question the autonomy of the EU social partners, which is explicitly recognised by EU treaties. This judgement brings legal uncertainty and requires the role of social partners and the process of social dialogue to swiftly be clarified to ensure that social partner agreements can progress into EU law as article 155 (2) of the TFEU envisages.

On the one hand, the European Commission calls upon EU social partners to conclude agreements instead of issuing joint positions and declarations, on the other hand when social partners do so, it undermines the whole procedure, as with hairdressers’ and public service sector’s agreements.

While the ECJ is of the opinion that the Commission has a wide margin of discretion on the possible implementation of social partners agreements, it must be noted that such a broad and undefined power of the European Commission may prevent the EU social partners from fulfilling their role under Article 152 TFEU and concluding social partner agreements at Union level under Article 155 TFEU. This will further undermine the autonomy of social partners and question the objective of the European Social Dialogue.

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[1] Case C-928/19 P ("European Federation of Public Services Union" (EPSU) v. European Commission) of 2 September 2021.

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OPEN LETTER: EU employers react to ECJ ruling that questions the autonomy of the EU social partners ( EPSU vs. European Commission )_11.10..2021
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