Overview: Issues concerning the world of work in Europe  

Europe and cooperation at EU level are important to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. In terms of how responsibilities are divided between the European Union (EU) and its member states, social and labour market policies are set largely at national level. However, in many cases merely national regulations are no longer sufficient today.

We see that we also need European-level rules in order to adequately protect workers given cross-border work, mobility within the EU, and processes such as digital transformation. This concerns, for example, the rights and working conditions of workers from other EU countries working in Germany as posted or mobile workers, or how the different social security systems are coordinated across national borders. For example, it is of great importance that people who have worked in different EU countries in the course of their lives also receive pensions from the different countries in line with their contributions, even if they now live in another EU country.

Specifically, the EU establishes Europe-wide standards for occupational health and safety with its directives and regulations. These then apply to every workplace in Germany, for example, limitations on carcinogenic chemicals. Or take the EU’s Working Time Directive, which determines the maximum number of hours workers are allowed to work each week throughout the EU.

Those are just a few examples. However, they show how much EU policy and EU law affect Germany’s social and labour market policy and that EU decisions have a significant influence on how we live and work in Germany.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is therefore committed to a strongly social Europe that contributes to prosperity and participation, job opportunities, fair mobility and social security while promoting social progress and cohesion.

The Ministry is actively involved in decision-making processes at EU level on these issues in the context of European law-making or policy initiatives. It also works closely with the European institutions, the other EU member states, the social partners and civil society actors.