EC: Seasonal workers in agriculture should be treated as critical workers
The European Commission published on March practical guidance to ensure the free movement of critical workers and on the implementation of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU.
Both of these documents respond to requests made by EU leaders on March 26 and seek to address practical concerns of citizens and companies affected by the measures taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus, and to facilitate transit arrangements for repatriated citizens, the Commission said.
The first set of guidelines identify workers that exercise critical occupations, in particular to fight the coronavirus pandemic, for which continued free movement in the EU is deemed essential.
These include health professionals, child and elderly care workers, scientists, medical device technicians, firefighters, police officers, transport workers, and persons working in the food sector.
“Seasonal workers in agriculture perform a critical function in certain circumstances for harvesting, planting and tending functions. In such a situation, member states should treat those persons as critical workers and communicate to the employers the necessity to provide for adequate health and safety protection.”
The guidelines also clarify that member states should allow frontier workers in general to continue crossing borders if work in the sector concerned is still allowed in the host member state.
The guidance on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU, which will assist border guards and visa authorities, provides advice on the implementation of the temporary restriction at the border, on facilitating transit arrangements for the repatriation of EU citizens, and on visa issues.
Also on March 30, the European Commission launched a dedicated website to provide guidance to companies, associations and their legal advisors where there is uncertainty about the compatibility with EU competition law of concrete co-operation initiatives with an EU dimension that need to be swiftly implemented in order to effectively tackle the coronavirus crisis.
“The Commission acknowledges that co-operation among businesses might be crucial in order to ensure the supply and fair distribution of essential goods and services, as well as to mitigate as much as possible the negative economic and social consequences of this crisis,” the statement said.