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Establishing a European platform for tackling undeclared work

Across the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU-27) as well as EFTA countries, national governments have invested a great deal of effort in developing and testing various policy approaches and measures to tackle undeclared work Until now, however, the emphasis given to cross-national cooperation has been rather less than one might have expected.

Reflecting this, the role of international cooperation in the prevention and fight against undeclared work has gained increased priority as a policy matter in the EU and in Member States’ agendas. At present, most cooperation occurs on a piecemeal country-by-country basis. More concerted coordinated action between labour inspectorates, and other relevant monitoring and enforcement bodies to prevent and fight undeclared work, has been the exception rather than the rule.

In consequence, it is now widely recognised that there is a need to explore the feasibility of establishing a European platform to coordinate actions between labour inspectorates, and other relevant monitoring and enforcement bodies. The precise configuration of this platform for coordinated European action, however, will need to be fully debated and an evidence-base is required to enable that discussion and debate to take place in the clearest of terms.

Professor Colin Williams of the Management School has been selected by the European Commission to provide the evidence-base and a series of policy options so as to enable an informed discussion and debate.

A feasibility study will be conducted during 2010 on establishing a European platform for cooperation between labour inspectorates, and other relevant monitoring and enforcement bodies, to prevent and fight undeclared work, funded by the European Commission [No. VT/2009/049]. This will learn from the lessons of not only previous attempts to seek cooperation in other spheres of activity at a European level and/or cross-nationally but also gauge evidence and views from across the full range of interested parties across governments and social partners in EU member states and beyond.

This research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr Piet Renooy of Regioplan Policy Research in the Netherlands, Ruslan Stefanov of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in Bulgaria, Professor Charles Woolfson of Linköping University in Sweden and Roeland Hartman, international labour law expert at Holland Van Gijzen Attorneys.

The current project builds upon Professor Williams’ involvement in earlier European-wide research including the design of a 27-nation survey of undeclared work for the European Commission implemented by Eurobarometer in 2007, and the recent production for the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions of a good practice ‘knowledge bank’ evaluating the effectiveness and transferability of over 100 policy measures used in 27 EU member states.

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