The second provisional agreement also failed to obtain sufficient support in the Council.

VS – 02/2024

On 16 February, the Belgian Council Presidency was unable to secure the necessary support from the member states for the provisional agreement about platform working that was reached in the trialogue. The wording used for the disputable presumption of employment, which should form the basis for determining the status of platform employees, remained controversial right up to the end and the Council failed to reach a consensus. Following the rejection of the agreement reached under the Spanish Council Presidency on 22 December 2023, this is the second time that a provisional agreement reached by the negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council did not gain a qualified majority in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper). This means that there is little hope that the dossier can be successfully completed before the end of the parliamentary work and the start of the EU election campaign.

Provisional agreement

On 8 February, the negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council agreed in their provisional agreement to adopt the chapter on "algorithmic management in the workplace" from the provisional agreement made in December without any changes being made to it. However, the section covering how the employment status is determined has undergone significant changes. There are no longer any harmonised conditions for triggering the disputable presumption of employment. A reference to "facts" has been included instead, which refers to control and management in accordance with the national laws applicable in the member states and taking the case law of the Court of Justice (ECJ) into consideration. The text simultaneously obliged the member states to create a disputable presumption of employment in their national systems - without going into the details as to how it should be applied.

However, the addition to the recitals requested by France, whereby an indicator of the disputable presumption of employment is not deemed to be fulfilled if this is a consequence of national law or trade union agreements, was not included in the agreement. The parliamentarians criticised the fact that digital labour platforms could undermine the status determinations by reaching agreements with non-representative or self-established trade unions.

Qualified majority

A qualified majority is needed in the Council to approve the draft law. At least 55 % of the member states, representing at least 65 % of the total population of the European Union (EU), must vote in favour of approval. Any abstentions thus count as votes against. Estonia, Germany, Greece and France abstained from voting. This means that more than the required 15 member states agreed on it. However, these 23 member states only represent 63.66 % of the European Union's (EU) population. This meant that the second criterion for a qualified majority was not met.

What's next?

The Belgian Council Presidency is still trying to organise a qualified majority and wants to discuss the dossier at ministerial level at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO). This is most likely the last opportunity to complete the dossier in this legislative term.