Companies from border regions in particular could benefit from targeted simplifications
Within the framework of the EU for the freedom to provide services, companies can temporarily post their employees in other EU member states. However, the posting companies must fulfil different bureaucratic requirements and use reporting portals for each EU country. Companies would like to see more harmonisation of national posting rules and procedures, particularly in border regions. At the same time, they recognise the need for this in principle, as it prevents social dumping, poor working conditions and unfair competition. The bureaucratic burden is perceived differently depending on the size of companies. But factors such as the type of services provided, the frequency of orders in neighbouring countries and the autonomy of action that companies grant themselves in navigating bureaucratic requirements also play an important role.
"Especially with regard to short and short-term assignments to neighbouring countries, bureaucracy is seen as disproportionate. For example, our interviews with managers of companies in the regions bordering France, Austria and the Netherlands showed that orders from neighbouring countries are increasingly being rejected or processed by partially circumventing regulations ("autonomous bureaucracy reduction"). Smaller companies in particular find it too costly to comply with neighbouring countries' comprehensive bureaucratic requirements, for example, short-term machine repairs or maintenance," reports study director Dr. Annette Icks. In this context, framework, collective declarations, and the 8-day rule, according to which short-term shipments are not subject to declaration under certain conditions, could serve as a model.
Both executives of posting companies and experts in the Netherlands rated the risk-based approach taken in Germany as positive: Here, the bureaucratic requirements under posting law are largely limited to certain economic sectors with increased "damage potential".
"It would be desirable if, with regard to the posting of workers, there was more pan-European thinking in the sense of a responsible reduction of bureaucracy. The European single market should not reach its limits in the border regions, where its manifold potential benefits are particularly large and important," says Dr. Annette Icks. A great relief would be the creation of an EU-wide reporting portal where companies could upload the required information and documents at the beginning of the year and to which the control authorities would be granted specifically defined access rights, while respecting data protection. The technical linking of the reporting portals to the digital IT systems of the posting companies would also have great practical relief potential. Digital tools could help distribute the bureaucratic burden more evenly between companies and control authorities in various areas. They can also help to convert companies' obligation to provide information (“Bringschuld”) into an obligation for control authorities to collect information themselves (“Hochschuld”).