Social Security Coordination for Pilots

ECA wrote to Commissioner Lazlo Andor complaining about the lack of consultation of interested parties in the preparation of guidelines and draft legislation concerning the social security applicable to pilots. ECA considers that the proposals are unrealistic and inadequate and ask for the suspension of the procedures. You can read below the full letter.

Download ECA's letter: Social Security Coordination for Pilots

Full ECA's Letter

Brussels, 23 December 2010

Re: Lack of consultation – Social Security Coordination for Pilots

Dear Mr Andor,

On behalf of the European Cockpit Association, I would like to express our serious concerns and disappointment regarding two recent developments in the area of social security coordination which will have a severe social impact for our members and for our sector:

  • The first development is the adoption on the 16th December 2010 by the Administrative Commission for the Coordination of Social Security Systems of the 'Practical guide - The legislation that applies to workers in the EU, EEA and CH', which contains a special part dealing with flying personnel (pilots and cabin crew).
  • The Second development is the publication on the 20th December 2010 of the Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009. This proposal contains also specific provisions dealing with flying personnel.

The developments above concern parts which target the activity of our sector, have a Community dimension and will have social implications for our sector and its employees. For these reasons, our Association believes that the Social Partners and our Sectoral Dialogue Committee should have been consulted before their adoption, following Article 2 (a) of Decision 98/500/EC of 20 May 1998 on the establishment of Sectoral Dialogue Committees.

The determination of the Social Security law applicable is, together with the determination of the Labour law, tax law and safety regulations, a key element in the prevention of social dumping and “flags of convenience” in a mobile sector such as air transport. The interest of Air Crew and Airlines’ representatives on this issue is notorious and is reflected regularly in the European press. Several court cases are open in the Member States concerning both the application of labour law and Social Security legislation. The Commission is well aware of the sensitive nature of this question and yet has decided to take measures without consulting the social partners as required by EU legislation.

As a Social Partner, ECA is regrettably used to see departments in other Directorates General ignore the consultation of Social Partners. These Directorate Generals invoke their lack of knowledge of social legislation. During the meetings of the Social Dialogue, DG Employment regularly sends messages to their colleagues in others DGs to better integrate Social Dialogue in their decision making processes when there is a development having social impact. Our Association is deeply concerned to see that DG Employment also chooses to ignore the consultation procedures.

ECA asked for a meeting with the Head of Unit responsible for social security coordination on the 6/10/2010 to enquire about the work of the Administrative Commission. The meeting took place on the 12/11/2010. We received verbal and vague information concerning the proposed guidelines of the Administrative Commission regarding flying personnel. Following this meeting we requested formally detailed information on the proposals by letters attached to e-mails dated 19/11 and 2/12. In both letters we requested that no decision concerning our sector to be taken without consultation. We also expressed concerns about the solution that was hinted during the meeting and asked concrete questions.

The Chairman of the Sectoral Committee Civil Aviation also wrote on the 7/12/2010 to the Commission asking for information and consultation before the adoption of texts capable to have social implications for our sector.

DG Employment ignored these request to provide information and to consult social partners. The concerns and questions from ECA remain unanswered. We wait for a response to these letters and to our concerns before we take further advice on how to react.

On the 21st December, after having adopted the texts, the Commission sends the Social Partners in Civil Aviation an invitation for a meeting in January “to present the new situation since the adoption of the rules in 2004 and to explain the context of yearly technical adaptations and guidelines.” This is a positive event, but consultation of social partners after taking decisions is not what we consider good dialogue.

At no moment your services informed us that the Commission was also in the last stage of drafting a proposal for Regulation amending Regulation 883 that would contain specific rules for air pilots. Only vague reference to a legislative process in spring was mentioned. Our surprise was massive when we received, on the 21stDecember, via a third party, a copy of the Commission’s Proposal to Amend Regulation 883/2004. We consider that this is very unfortunate.

We cannot accept the technical nature of these developments as an excuse to ignore Social Dialogue. Both during the discussion of the Guidelines and the preparation of the Draft Proposal for a Regulation, different options were considered and the economic interest of Member States played a role in the discussions. The exclusion of Social Partners shows a lack of consideration for the capacity and value added of Social Partners. The Commission clearly disregarded the call from the European Parliament in its Resolution of 18/07/1997 for “a specific importance to be attached to the sectoral social dialogue since the impact of regulation and or deregulation on employment in the economic sectors can best be assessed with the sectoral social dialogue.

It is well understood that we are not proposing here a negotiation which would end up in Community legislation as it is foreseen in the Treaty for some items. Social Dialogue is also established for consultation and information of social partners. This is the role Social Partners are expected to have in this case.

ECA therefore considers that both the 2nd part of the 'Practical guide - The legislation that applies to workers in the EU, EEA and CH-' and the Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems(COM(2010) 794 final) have been adopted in breach of Decision 98/500/EC of 20 May 1998.

We urge you to suspend the effect of the parts of these developments which have social impact for our sector and take all necessary measures to regularise this situation and to ensure an effective consultation of social partners on matters that have direct impact on this sector.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Chalk                             Philip von Schöppenthau

ECA President                          ECA Secretary General