PARIS (Reuters) — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday that a package of workers' rights which the EU executive will propose next spring would reduce differences among labour markets across the bloc.
Addressing a European trades union gathering in Paris, the conservative former Luxembourg premier also criticised a trend away from long-term employment contracts towards short-term hiring and said the latter should not become the norm.
"We, the European Commission, will propose in spring 2016 a pillar of minimum labour rights, a protective cordon around the labour market," he said, adding that it would set labour norms that "cannot be adjusted downwards".
"In doing so," he said, "We will add to convergence in the employment sphere in Europe."
Juncker, who took over the EU executive 11 months ago, has said recently he would propose harmonising employment standards, though there has so far been little detail on the plan.
The issue is particularly sensitive at present since Britain's conservative government is trying to negotiate terms of membership before holding a referendum on whether to stay in the EU. Employment regulation from Brussels is unpopular on the right in Britain, though favoured by many opponents on the left.
In a reference which an EU official said was to workers being posted abroad, Juncker said he wanted to see a level playing field on pay: "In Europe, we must finally agree on a simple principle: the same pay for the same job wherever it is."
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