Belgium makes ultimate attempt to save legislation on platform workers

Brussels (Belga) – It is not yet over and done for the EU directive to give platform workers better working conditions. A political agreement between EU countries and the European Parliament already failed to be approved by the member states twice, but the Belgian EU Presidency is making an ultimate attempt to save the text. This was revealed by diplomatic sources on Wednesday.

A first agreement failed to gain a majority during a vote in the Council. Spurred on by Belgium, which has presided over the Council since 1 January, negotiators from EU countries and the Parliament reached a new agreement a fortnight ago, but that text also subsequently failed to achieve the necessary qualified majority among member states. France voted against and Germany, Greece and Estonia abstained.

At the next meeting of European employment ministers on 11 March, which will be chaired by Belgian federal minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne, a sufficient majority will again be sought, the sources said on Wednesday. There is not much room to manoeuvre, as the intention is to stay within the framework of the agreement with Parliament. The dossier will also already be discussed at the level of member state ambassadors in the coming days. If they find an agreement, ministers will only have to formally endorse it.

The EU directive targets millions of people who work for digital platforms such as Uber, Deliveroo or Bolt. The European Union wants to tackle false self-employment in the sector and ensure that platform workers have a correct status. At the heart of the directive is a mechanism, based on a number of parameters that automatically determines whether a platform worker can keep his or her self-employed status, or is de facto employed and must therefore also be registered and treated as an employee. (20 February)

Gonzato: Albania needs more clarity in the regulatory framework of the economy

Tirana (ATA) – The Ambassador of the European Union in Tirana, Silvio Gonzato, emphasised the need to promote a competitive economy in Albania during the meeting he held with Blendi Gonxhe, who leads the newly established Ministry of Economy, Culture and Innovation.

“Albania needs better coordination of economic policies, more transparency and clarity in the regulatory framework, including investment policies, and a business environment friendly to innovation,” said Gonzato at the meeting, emphasising that this would encourage competition.

Gonzato assured Minister Gonxhe of the EU’s sustained support for Albania’s reforms in the field of economy, innovation and culture. (22 February)

Bulgaria notifies Commission on wanting to benefit from derogation for non-arable land

Sofia/Brussels (BTA) – The Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food has informed the European Commission that the country wants to benefit from a derogation for 2024 on the application of the Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC), which concerns the minimum share of agricultural land dedicated to non-productive areas. 

The GAEC standards are a set of European rules to protect and improve the environment and climate. Farmers must comply with these standards on their farms in order to receive financial support under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

On February 12, in the wake of agricultural protests across Europe, the European Commission had conceded the possibility of granting a derogation for 2024. The specific standard provides for a minimum share of at least 4 percent of arable farm land to be set aside for non-productive areas and special forms of cultivation, including land set aside for crops that enrich the soil with nitrogen and/or catch crops. The condition set by the Commission is that member states inform the Commission in due time if they want to benefit from the derogation.

The derogation gives farmers greater flexibility in terms of areas, placing fewer restrictions on how farmers can use them, so that revenue losses are reduced, while the corresponding environmental benefits are ensured.

The change allows farmers not to leave 4 percent of their farm land uncultivated this year and, if they wish, to grow a limited number of plants there. Farmers who plant the relevant area with nitrogen-fixing crops such as lentils, peas and broad beans, or catch crops, will be deemed to have met the requirements. (20 February)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published on Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.