Undeclared work was defined in the Commission Communication of 24 October 2007 entitled "Stepping up the fight against undeclared work” as "any paid activities that are lawful as regards their nature but not declared to public authorities, taking into account differences in the regulatory systems of the Member States”.
Undeclared work often has a cross-border dimension and its nature may vary from one country to the other, depending on the economic, administrative and social context. Therefore, measures to tackle undeclared work should be tailored to take account of those differences.
Undeclared work has severe consequences both for enterprises and their workers. Not only does it compromise efforts aimed at improving productivity but also, it slowly erodes the stability of well-established law-abiding companies which have to face unfair forms of competition.
Through its European and national federations, the construction industry has been active in the fight against undeclared work for many years.
By its very nature, it is extremely difficult to quantify in a precise and reliable manner the scale as well as the various components of undeclared work. The difficulty in determining its extent partly explains the challenge confronting the sector in establishing a policy for effectively combating it.
However, the main forces that drive undeclared work are widely known, for example the high labour related costs, such as social security charges, the imposition of Value Added Tax, the rigid legal framework applicable to the proper employment of labour in most countries, and the complexity of procedures and excessive bureaucracy, all of which should be addressed.
In order to be effective, the fight against undeclared work requires both a global approach combining preventive and repressive measures and joint action by companies, federations and national and European authorities.
In order to address this problem a Platform, at Union level, has been set up, with the aim of enhancing cooperation between Member States in tackling undeclared work. The Platform will make use of all relevant sources of information, in particular studies, bilateral agreements concluded between Member States and multilateral cooperation projects, and create synergies between existing instruments and structures at Union level to maximise the deterrent or preventive effect of those measures. It should contribute to the strengthening of cooperation between Member States, including by facilitating innovative approaches to cross-border cooperation and enforcement as well as by evaluating Member States' experiences of such cooperation.
FIEC, as representative of a sector considered to be particularly affected by this problem, sits in the Platform as observer.