An EU deal that faced no shortage of political wrangling, which would have seen millions of gig workers across the EU reclassified as formal employees, broke down at the last minute on Friday morning.

Euronews reported that a meeting of EU Member State ambassadors in Brussels held yesterday, meant to formally ratify the text of the Platform Work Directive after a provisional agreement was reached last week between the EU Parliament and Council, unexpectedly fell apart with diplomats saying they would not support the outcome of the institutional talks, making it impossible for a final vote to be held at Council level.

The proposed directive would have seen some self-employed workers of digital platforms, such as Bolt and Uber, re-classified as formal employees – which comes with basic employment and social rights – if they met two of five economic indicators.

The change could have impacted the status of up to 5.5 million of the 28 million gig workers currently active across the EU, the European Commission estimates.

Asked by this newsroom about its views on the directive, a spokesperson for Bolt said that Move EU, the European Association of On-Demand Mobility which represents the interests of mobility platform work providers like Uber and Bolt, “is deeply concerned” about the current text, and called on EU Member States not to approve what it described as an “unbalanced agreement”.

The Bolt spokesperson further said that the agreement would create “legal uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of drivers throughout the EU”.

“While acknowledging efforts to address the complexities of platform work, we feel that the agreed-upon provisions fall short of meeting the wishes of platform workers. This provisional agreement fails to fully live up to drivers’ demands and needs.

“We are concerned that the threshold to introduce a presumption is based on fulfilling only two out of five indicators. The indicators laid out, while aiming to classify employment status, do not take into account the nuanced realities that the Council sought to address in its General Approach.”

With Move EU’s concerns seemingly heard, the next stages for this ill-fated directive will require a fresh push to amend the text and gather the required votes in mid-January, at the earliest.

Should calls for changes to the text be too significant, the Council will then have to re-open negotiations with Parliament, further prolonging the process. Other complications arise considering the cut-off date for all negotiations being February, due to the next EU elections scheduled for early June.

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