About the SENSE Project
The EU transport sector – that includes various modes of transportation of goods and people – is a genuine transnational sector. It involves many countries and stakeholders, each having its own different economic, social and legal systems. If, for instance, goods are transported from the Netherlands to Poland and vice versa, transport is carried out in different countries whilst it is indifferent for the purpose of moving these goods to either engage a Dutch or a Polish company. The choice of company and where it is established, however, does have major economic, social and legal consequences for countries, companies, employees and other stakeholders involved. This is specifically so, if on a large scale similar choices are made. For instance: favouring Polish transport companies above companies established in the BeNeLux countries. The freedom to make such choices is accepted and forms part of fundamental EU freedoms, such as free movement of goods and services. At the same time, if these choices are solely made on the basis of the costs of labour, this may result in ‘abuse’ of the rules, commonly referred to as social dumping. Here, we see a potential clash between EU freedoms on the one hand and protection of employment and social standards of Member States on the other.
Perhaps surprisingly, there are great gaps in knowledge and education of the complications in the social and legal policy field concerning EU international transportation. The knowledge present in different Member States is scattered, as substantiated in the information on complementary other projects. Cooperation between universities and other stakeholders is scarce and high quality education unavailable. Problems show that Europe urgently needs properly trained professionals able to solve the problems at hand and develop best practices.
That is what this project is about: the SENSE partners aim to solve problems arising in the field of EU transnational transportation, by providing adequate understanding of the legal setting, not just at a single national level, but also at EU and multinational/comparative level, by developing and implementing state of the art education and by working with innovative tools: a Legal Navigation App. SENSE clarifies the legal aspects of transnational transport from multiple perspectives and educates (future) professionals. It underlines the EU policy New Skills for New Jobs as it tackles the problem that EU legal professionals need new innovative teaching and training in this relatively unexplored area of EU law. Combining state of the art knowledge, students, lecturers and professionals are enabled to enter into a dialogue on actual topics from different national perspectives. This cooperation will enlarge staff mobility and bridge the world of education with the world of non-educational stakeholders. Jointly, EU law schools will develop an international programme, containing different modules about ‘transnational employment within the transport sector in the EU’. This project aspires to make SENSE in transitional transport in the EU. SENSE aims to make transport more Social, rules better ENforceable, the sector of international transport more Sustainable and because of the Legal Navigation App all of this will be made Easy.
This project aims to address two target groups: law students at master level and post-academic professionals from the transport sector. As regards law students, the programme aspires to deliver high quality skilled future professionals. Students will have the unique opportunity not to approach the field from just a national perspective, but also from a genuine cross-country perspective. This gives them an excellent opportunity to address the problems mentioned above and increases their job opportunities. As a result, they will be able to advise and assist companies, governments and social partners in their need to establish a fair and proper functioning system for transnational employment within the EU transport sector. Post-academic professionals (legal and HR professionals from transnational transport companies, trade unions and employers organisations and policy makers) will be able to use the new developed programme and share knowledge and expertise.
Need for transnational cooperation
The EU transport sector is truly transnational. Therefore, this project is only possible on a transnational EU level. The involvement of different countries, with their own different legal and social systems asks for a true EU approach, combining national issues and circumstances from a EU perspective.
Transnational collaboration in education makes SENSE
SENSE contributes to innovations in the transport sector. Current national programmes in law only provide courses in national law and EU law separately. An integral vision on the interaction of EU freedoms with social rights at the national level is lacking which puts change and innovation on hold. This project will educate modern and versatile professionals able to think outside the boundaries of national law. These new professionals will not think and work as “we” and “them” but from an integrated transnational perspective. Operating at the interface of European and national law will broaden the horizon of students and teachers, break traditional patterns in education and bring refreshing insights on how problems are solved in other countries.
SENSE focuses on the sector in which the challenges are arguably the greatest and the solutions the most difficult to find. The Strategic Partnership is fully linked with the needs of the transport sector, i.e. based on on-going input from stakeholders. Their positive response proves that this program is an important step in realizing an upgrade of skills and knowledge. The modules will improve the ability of (future) professionals to keep up with new developments (learning to learn) and will be used in the partners’ academic education to improve the quality of the curricula.
Legal Navigation App makes even more SENSE
The programme will develop a Legal Navigation App. Teachers and students will be asked to participate in providing the legal input for that App. What are the exact questions that the App should be able to answer, which exact legal and factual input is necessary to retrieve these answers, and what are those answers for the participating jurisdictions? This exercise will enhance transparency and will force everyone involved to really understand and decide, within the limits of the law, which rules must at all times apply in the social policy field of this sector.
The App will be designed to monitor exactly in which countries the transnational work is performed and for which time periods. It will provide the legal consequences hereof. It will e.g. answer questions regarding applicable working and resting time (when should there be a break and for how long?), wages (what are the applicable minimum wages in the country the employee works) and other working conditions (for instance: are there any surcharges and do specific safety regulations apply). It will also aid the proper enforcement of the rules. Such device does not exist yet. The App will first be targeted to the partner countries with the aim to reach all Member States of the European Union.