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European law that was supposed to improve the lot of Uber drivers is dying a silent death


After Spain, Belgium has also failed to gain sufficient support from EU member states for legislation that would give millions of platform workers in Europe, such as Deliveroo couriers, more legal certainty.

European attempts to introduce a directive to achieve better working conditions for platform workers, such as Deliveroo couriers or Uber drivers, have failed for the second time in three months. This happened after a proposed legislation on Friday again found insufficient support among the EU member states. France and Estonia, among others, voted against, meaning that the compromise put on the table by Belgian negotiators was not adopted.

In December, a first attempt by Spain – at that time temporary chairman of the Council of the EU – had already failed. The agreement reached by Spanish negotiators with the European Parliament proposed introducing five criteria that would determine whether a platform worker should be classified as self-employed or as an employee. Under that proposal, an estimated 5 million food deliverers, drivers and other handymen who are currently self-employed would now be considered employees. This was calculated by the European Commission, which launched the proposal two years ago. This would entitle them to more social protection, such as paid sick days and leave.

Higher costs

But that was against the wishes of multinationals such as Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo, who want to continue working with independent drivers and couriers – not only for the extra flexibility, but also because they then have to pay less social security contributions than for employees. If the law were passed, Uber would leave “hundreds” of European cities, the American technology company warned in advance.

The Spanish agreement was ultimately rejected by almost half of the EU member states – not least by France, which wanted to continue to determine who is self-employed or employed. As a result, the file ended up on the plate of the Belgian presidency. Under the impetus of Minister of Labour, Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS), Belgian negotiators tried to save the legislation with a new proposal, in which Member States could continue to judge the status, but which would make it easier for workers to exercise their status. challenge – without having to go to court.

That watered-down proposal also did not find the necessary majority among EU member states. This makes it virtually impossible to find and have an agreement approved before the end of this European administrative period. The estimated 40 million platform workers in Europe therefore continue to work in a legally uncertain situation, with various lawsuits being fought at national level regarding their status.

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