The European Commission published new practical advice to ensure that mobile workers within the EU that qualify as critical workers in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic can reach their workplace. The food sector is a key sector included in these guidelines, especially regarding seasonal workers.
Responding to requests made by EU leaders, these guidelines seek to address practical concerns of citizens and companies affected by measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus, and the national authorities implementing the measures. Those measures include internal border controls and the restriction of movement of people within the EU.
The EU agri-food sector is working hard to ensure an efficient food supply chain and food security across the EU during this unparalleled crisis. Nonetheless, in the coming weeks, it will face a significant labour shortage if seasonal workers are not able to reach their workplace due to restrictive measures. Seasonal workers are critical to the agricultural sector in terms of harvesting, planting and tending functions, especially in the current season.
Through these guidelines, the Commission urges Member States to establish specific burden free and fast procedures to ensure a smooth passage for frontier and seasonal workers, including proportionate health screening.
Regarding seasonal workers in the agricultural sector, Member States should exchange information on their different needs at technical level and establish specific procedures to ensure a smooth passage for such workers. In addition, 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 Commission will continue to identify the best practices with Member States which can be extended to all Member States for allowing workers to exercise their crucial occupations without undue hindrance.
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