The European Commission’s decision on German minimum wage will be an important Signac for other member states. It could have an impact on the strengthening of protectionist tendencies. The result of the investigation procedure conducted by the Commission will surely be a message for other countries – such as France, Belgium, Holland or Italy. The decision will either restrict their efforts or encourage them to take further protectionists steps.
The German act is based on the application of the territorial principle in establishing the minimum wage, regardless of the model in which it is provided. This is a violation of the freedom to provide services in the EU and is clearly intended to negatively affect the competitiveness of road haulage companies from other countries and ultimately eliminate them from the market. At the same time, it is an attempt to interfere with the competences of member states, who decide on employment conditions, including remuneration. Meanwhile, the obligation to archive documents regarding employment conditions of Polish drivers and make them available for control institutions and courts entails granting these institutions the right to assess employment relationship between Polish companies and their employees.
For Polish road haulers the problem remains unresolved. Although Germany has suspended the validity of new regulations for transit, the y are still in force when it comes to cabotage and trans-border transport. Most transport services provided by Polish companies in Germany falls into the latter category. The need to adapt to this obligation means additional burdens and problems resulting from the many ambiguities related to the application of the regulations in question. Every day with these regulations in force is a significant cost for the Polish international road haulage industry and an administrative obstacle for providing services. Adherence to the new regulations is already being checked by German customs services.
Jacek Brzozowski, Adviser to the President of Employers of Poland