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The aim of this paper is to conduct an exploratory analysis of the wider economic and social conditions associated with larger informal economies. To do this, three competing perspectives are evaluated critically which variously assert that cross-national variations in the size of the informal economy are associated with: under-development modernization perspective ; high taxes, corruption and state interference neo-liberal perspective , or inadequate state intervention to protect workers political economy perspective. Analyzing the variable size of the informal economy across 33 developed and transition economies, namely 28 European countries and five other OECD nations Australia, Canada, Japan, New zealand and the USA , the finding is that larger informal economies are associated with under-development as measured by lower levels of GNI per capita, employment participation rates, average wages and the institutional strength and quality of the bureaucracy, higher levels of perceived public sector corruption, lower levels of expenditure on social protection and labour market intervention to protect vulnerable groups, but also restrictions on the use of temporary employment contracts and TWAs.

The outcome is a tentative call to combine a range of tenets from all three perspectives in a new more nuanced and finer-grained understanding of how the cross-national variations in the size of the informal economy are associated with broader economic and social conditions. Member States have also carried out multilateral projects on certain aspects of undeclared work and concluded bilateral agreements. The Platform will not prevent the application of bilateral agreements or arrangements concerning administrative cooperation.

However, the lessons learnt show that not all Member States take part in these exercises. In case of such voluntary multilateral cooperation, there is no obligation for Member States to participate, nor is there a mechanism to make participation mandatory in case the participation is found necessary by other Member States.

As a result, EU level cooperation remains patchy both in terms of the Member States involved and the issues covered. The existence of common challenges for the relevant enforcement authorities across Member States is another incentive for them to cooperate in this area. Inspection authorities face difficulties in cross-border situations, in particular when the aim is to identify or sanction cases of undeclared work, because their traditional mechanisms are meant to tackle mostly domestic aspects of undeclared work.

Many Member States face difficulties in ensuring appropriate communication and cooperation between different enforcement bodies within the Member States and in a cross-border context. In addition, it is commonly perceived that excessive taxation or regulation of labour may boost undeclared work and that there may be effective, non-punitive ways to encourage employers to declare work and comply with law.

Finally, while in general all Member States agree on the need to prevent and deter undeclared work, in practice there may be different ways and levels of commitment to this goal and this might end up with low political priority and low sense of urgency to tackle undeclared work. The Communication "Towards a job-rich recovery" therefore highlighted the need for improved cooperation among Member States and announced the launch of consultations on setting up an EU-level platform between labour inspectorates and other enforcement bodies to combat undeclared work, aimed at improving cooperation, sharing best practices and identifying common principles for inspections.

In , an external feasibility study[14] on the establishment of a European platform for cooperation between labour inspectorates and other relevant monitoring and enforcement bodies to prevent and fight undeclared work was carried out. The study analysed existing national institutional frameworks and policy measures, difficulties encountered by enforcement bodies on national and international levels, existing cross-border co-operation, best practices and identifies possible options for a European platform to prevent and fight undeclared work.

The special Eurobarometer[15] on undeclared work and a recent report from Eurofound on tackling undeclared work in the Member States[16] also fed into the preparation of this initiative. The Eurofound report was accompanied by an updated database[17] of measures taken between and The database includes case studies from all EU Member States as well as from candidate countries. The database can be used to search measures by country, type of measures, target group and sector. In general, Member States' representatives recognized the added value in EU level action targeted at preventing and deterring undeclared work and welcomed the intention of the Commission to become more involved in this policy area.

The views of the European Social Partners have been collected in a 1st stage consultation[18] 4 July to 4 October The Commission identified the main problems related to prevention and deterrence of undeclared work, recalled the most recent activities taken by the Commission and introduced the objectives and possible content of the initiative. The aim of the consultation was to consult management and labour on the possible direction of EU action.

The Commission received 15 replies from them 2 joint replies, 3 replies from the workers' representatives and 10 replies from employers' organisations. Social Partners agreed with the overall problem description and indicated that action at EU level is justified with the main objective of assisting national authorities, such as labour inspectorates, social security and tax authorities to prevent and deter undeclared work.

In general, social partners agreed that a European platform could be an appropriate vehicle for enhancing cooperation between Member States. However, the views of social partners were divergent. Most of the employers' representatives were of the opinion that the Platform should be established. However, they considered that there was no need for a separate new structure. Instead, options such as the creation of a subgroup to an existing group or better coordination of existing groups, could be considered. All trade unions and some employers' representatives favoured the establishment of an independent new body in order to ensure that all the facets of undeclared work be covered, which could not happen if existing structures would be used.

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Regarding the participation in the Platform, trade unions and some employers' representatives argued in favour of a mandatory approach for Member States, while some employers' organisations preferred a voluntary approach. The Social Partners supported the Commission's objective to present an initiative, but did not wish to enter into negotiations on this issue.

A 2nd stage consultation of Social Partners took place from 30 January to 13 March [19]. In this consultation, the Commission presented an overview of the results of the 1st stage consultation and outlined the content of the planned initiative.


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The aim of the consultation was to obtain Social Partners' views on the content of the envisaged initiative on enhancing cooperation between Member States in the prevention and deterrence of undeclared work. The Commission received 16 replies 1 joint reply, 4 replies from the workers' representatives and 11 replies from employers' organisations.

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New elements were provided regarding social partners' participation in the Platform. Trade unions and employers' representatives agreed that EU level social partners, both cross-sectoral and in sectors with high incidence of undeclared work should be involved in the Platform as observers.

Some trade unions and employers' representatives suggested that social partners should be given member status[20]. The Impact Assessment included several options for enhancing EU cooperation in the prevention and deterrence of undeclared work.

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The first option considered was no new action beyond the existing working groups and initiatives. The option of better coordination of the work of the different existing working groups and committees was also considered. The third option was the establishment of a European Platform to enhance EU cooperation in the prevention and deterrence of undeclared work. Several sub-options were considered for setting up the Platform, such as a Platform with voluntary or mandatory membership and giving a responsibility for coordinating Member States actions against undeclared work to Eurofound.

An option to create a decentralised agency responsible for enforcement of EU law and fight against undeclared work was considered. The analysis concluded that the preferred option would be the establishment of a European Platform with mandatory membership. The Platform would provide for the involvement of all relevant authorities of all Member States in the EU level activities and enable regular and operational cooperation in this area.

The sub-option of a voluntary multilateral cooperation was considered sub-optimal since the refusal of some Member States to participate would greatly diminish the value of EU cooperation for more ambitious Member States. In particular, mandatory participation was considered necessary, because cooperation to tackle cross-border aspects of undeclared work could not be fully achieved if some Member States were in Member States with high priority in dealing with such aspects, mostly destination countries and others out.

The cross-border aspects of undeclared work could also have negative impact on the functioning of the Single Market as employers providing services in other Member States using undeclared workers would cause unfair competition. These employers can provide cheaper services due to the fact that they do not pay taxes or comply with obligations arising, for instance, from health and safety and working conditions regulations.

Taken into account all of the above, namely the need for improved EU cooperation, cross-border aspects of undeclared work and their impacts on the functioning of the Single Market, all Member States need to be included on the mandatory basis in the enhanced cooperation to tackle all aspects of the phenomenon. Other options would not guarantee the involvement of all the relevant authorities of all Member States, would limit cooperation to the exchanges of best practices or would not allow for enforcement issues to be addressed appropriately and would thereby fail to support the holistic approach needed to tackle the problem.

In addition, other options would contribute to a lesser degree to the visibility and prioritisation of the problem at EU level. The Platform will bring together different enforcement authorities of all Member States as members. The Platform will carry out a number of tasks to be defined and implemented on the basis of agreed work programmes. Exchange of good practice would be the first practical step of cooperation. It would improve the knowledge of the phenomenon and develop better understanding about how undeclared work is tackled and who the main actors are in the Member States.

To make best use of this exchange, based on a Eurofound database, a Knowledge Bank could be established, which could inter alia elaborate further on enforcement issues and lead to the development of common guidelines and principles. It is foreseen that the Platform will evolve progressively from a forum for exchange of information and good practice to more elaborate forms of cooperation as mutual trust and experience build up.

Ultimately, the Platform should be able to undertake joint trainings and exchange of staff, and coordinate operational actions, including joint inspections and data sharing.

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The proposal will enhance the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Union's instruments, policies promoting a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions and relevant law and promote evidence-based policy-making and social progress, in partnership with different stakeholders.

In particular, Article TFEU stipulates that the Union and the Member States "shall have as their objectives the promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions, […] proper social protection, […] with the view to lasting high employment and the combating of social exclusion. The proposal on an enhanced EU cooperation in deterrence and prevention of undeclared work is based on Article 2 a TFEU, which allows for the European Parliament and the Council to adopt measures designed to encourage cooperation between Member States through initiatives aimed at improving knowledge, developing exchanges of information and best practices, promoting innovative approaches and evaluating experiences, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.

The main objectives to be achieved by this initiative are the promotion of employment and improved working conditions Art TFEU. Taking into account the fact that the fight against undeclared work in different Member States relies on different types of enforcement bodies as explained in Chapter 1 , it is necessary that this initiative is extended to all national authorities, including those which will not be active in the employment and social fields, but are also responsible for, or have a role in the deterrence or prevention of undeclared work, such as taxation, migration and customs authorities.

The choice of legal instrument — a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council — is the most appropriate, taken into account that the Article foresees the ordinary legislative procedure for the adoption of the initiative. The EU action enhancing cooperation at EU level would support the efforts of Member States in the deterrence and prevention of undeclared work by making it more effective and efficient. It thereby adds value to Member States' actions. National enforcement authorities are indeed the most appropriate level to tackle the challenges linked to undeclared work.

In addition, the cross-border aspects can be better tackled at EU level. The proposal thereby complies with the principle of subsidiarity. The proposal complies with the proportionality principle since it is a measure designed to encourage cooperation between Member States without any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. An option of creating a new EU decentralised agency was considered, but was discarded given the administration costs entailed in establishing a new agency.

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