by Keith Zahra
The European Commission has launched a process to ensure that the EU competition rules do not stand in the way of collective bargaining for those who need it. The initiative seeks to ensure that working conditions can be improved through collective agreements not only for employees, but also for those self-employed who need protection.
Stakeholders from the public and private sector as well as legal and economic practitioners trade unions and employers organisations are invited to participate to the on-going public consultation on the Digital Services Act Package. The Court of Justice of the European Union has long recognised that collective bargaining with workers falls outside the scope of the application of EU competition rules. Concerns arise, however, when attempts are made to extend collective bargaining to groups of professionals who, at least formally, are not employees, such as the self-employed.
According to EU competition law, such professionals are considered “undertakings” and agreements they enter into (such as collective bargaining) may therefore be captured by the EU competition rules. To define the scope of the self-employed who need to participate in collective bargaining is a challenge. Self-employed activities are very diverse, they can cover a wide range of activities and their situation varies during time.
The European Commission is therefore now assessing whether it is necessary to adopt measures at EU level in order to address the issues raised by this situation and improve the conditions of these individuals.