Workers in critical sectors can continue to move freely in the EU

Europe sets guidelines to alleviate labor shortages in agriculture

The Spanish associations of stone fruit producers and exporters integrated in FEPEX: AFRUCAT, AFRUEX, APOEXPA, ASOCIAFRUIT, AEAMDE, APEPH, FEDEFRUTA and EXCOFRUT, have warned of the lack of temporary labor for the thinning and harvesting tasks that will begin shortly in all production areas of Andalusia, Murcia, Extremadura, Aragon and Catalonia. Consequently, they have made some proposals to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with ideas to solve this serious problem, such as facilitating the transit of laborers to work in different areas of Spain.

On March 30, the European Commission published some practical guidelines to guarantee the free movement of the so-called critical workers, that is, those who carry out essential tasks in this COVID-19 crisis, including those temporary agricultural workers.

In the communication entitled "Guidelines on the exercise of free movement of workers during the COVID-19 outbreak", the Commission calls on the Member States to exchange information on the different needs as regards seasonal workers, particularly in the agricultural sector, and to establish specific procedures to facilitate the movement of these workers and tackle the shortage of labor derived from the crisis.

The Commission says that, in certain circumstances, seasonal agricultural workers perform critical functions in harvesting, sowing and crop care. In these situations, Member States should treat such workers as critical workers and inform employers about the need to ensure adequate health and safety protection.

The directive published by the European Commission contains a list of crucial professions whose workers must be able to keep moving freely in the EU. The list is not exhaustive and, in addition to employees in the health care sector and persons working in the food sector, employees in the transport sector are also included.



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