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Helping Europe tackle undeclared work

Undeclared work, or what is sometimes called the ‘cash-in-hand’, ‘informal’ or ‘off-the-books’ economy, is a growing problem and governments throughout the European Union have been looking at what can be done about it. Until now national governments have had few opportunities to systematically share information with each other on what works and what does not.

Professor Colin Williams was asked by the Eurofoundation based in Dublin to evaluate what could be done to facilitate a joined-up approach towards this issue and his research highlighted the need for a ‘knowledge bank’ to share good practice. As a first step an on-line ‘knowledge bank’ was created, which evaluated the effectiveness of policy measures in five countries and a synthesis report was produced calling for a more coordinated approach.

The European Parliament then took up this issue, citing his work in a 2008 Resolution to step up the fight to combat undeclared work. The Resolution recommended the development of a more extensive knowledge bank of best practice policy measures as well as investigating creating a European platform to join up the fight against undeclared work. An EU body called Eurofound – the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions – asked Professor Williams to expand the knowledge bank to 31 European countries and he was awarded the European Commission contract to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a European platform for tackling undeclared work.

As a result, national governments now have a ‘learning hub’ to identify a whole range of possible innovative policy measures from other countries for tackling undeclared work as well as access to evaluations of their effectiveness. The European Commission is now discussing a concrete proposal for a European-wide institution for tackling undeclared work.

For more information, please see: www.eurofound.europa.eu/areas/ labourmarket/tackling/search.php

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