The revision of the directive on the posting of workers is essential to the European project. Better rules, up to date with the size and diversity of today's European Union and understandable by the citizens will allow for a smoother run of the internal market through the free movement of services, one of the pillars of our Union. This revision also seeks to ensure a better protection for all posted workers, so they can work in dignity, with decent wages and in safe conditions.
When the current directive was adopted in 1996, Europe was composed of 15 member states that displayed minimum wage gaps from one to three. Today, we are 28 member states and these same gaps go from one to 10.
The Commission published its proposal for the revision as part of its manoeuvres to revitalise the EU's social component and, as a member of the EPP group and a defender of a social market economy, I very much welcome going in that direction.
Bringing this directive up to speed with today's Europe is a way to ensure that posted workers are equally treated and to foster fair competition. In such a context, all European citizens benefit from the advantages promoted by the single market.
Some say that it only concerns a very small amount of EU workers, so this revision is not a big deal. But if you look closely, in some regions and in some sectors posted workers have an important impact on the economy.
The revision of the 1996 directive, in addition to the 2014 execution directive, will contribute to better controls as part of our efforts against fraud, and to improve posted workers' working conditions. This benefits us all.
In order to achieve these objectives, a lot of work has been done and still needs to be done with my colleague Agnes Jongerius, co-rapporteur, and all the shadow rapporteurs. We must find the perfect balance between social protection and freedom to provide services.
These are not opposite concepts, they are actually complementary. The citizens need the European single market, but the single market needs the consent of the European citizens. In order to be better understood, the directive must aim at serving them all.
A lot has been said on this topic, especially at national level and very often without knowing the reality of the situation. Therefore, I will be fighting relentlessly for a clear, efficient and comprehensive revision of this directive.
Indeed, the posted workers directive is politically heavy, reflecting the discrepancies between countries, cultures and economic situations. It is a very complicated, political and technical matter thus, my priority is reaching compromises.
For this reason, I refuse to let the discussion become an east-west divide and seek an agreement which will represent and satisfy as many as possible. The difficulty of negotiations only reflects the necessity of adjusting the directive of 1996.
This directive is too important to be drowned in protectionism and populist discourses: we must overlook our geographic and ideological cleavages and build together, in our diversity, the future of our common European project. This must start with a Social Europe which benefits and protects us all.