Slovakia will host EU's new labour agency

EU Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen

The Slovak capital Bratislava on Thursday won the right to host a new EU agency to oversee the labour market that is due to start operating this autumn, news wires reported. A narrow majority of EU states chose Bratislava in a first-round vote.

The EU recently decided to move its banking and medicines oversight bureaus to Paris and Amsterdam, respectively, because of Brexit. Poland hosts border agency Frontex.

Eastern ex-communist EU states often complain that the bloc’s many prominent agencies are overwhelmingly located in Western Europe. The case of the European Labour Authority was also sensitive because the proposal to create it came in 2017 as eastern European countries clashed with French President Emmanuel Macron, backed by countries including Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, over a reform of the bloc’s labour laws. The practice allowing EU workers to work in more expensive parts of the bloc but be paid closer to what they would earn at home has since been curbed. The richer West saw that rule as undercutting its labour market and workers, while the poorer East has said it should be allowed to help iron out economic disparities.

Announcing Thursday’s decision, EU Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said the new agency’s task would be to ensure EU labour rules were fair and effectively enforced, and to fight abuse.

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