Europe launches campaign to tackle undeclared work

The Commission is launching today the first European campaign for declared work. It will work hand in hand with the European Platform tackling undeclared work and the European Labour Authority. The initiative intends to raise awareness amongst workers, companies and policymakers that undeclared work does not pay off. It deprives workers of social protection, it distorts competition between businesses, and it leads to huge gaps in public finances

A new Special Eurobarometer illustrates the scale of the problem: one in ten Europeans report they have purchased goods or services in the past year that might have derived from undeclared work. A third of Europeans know somebody who works undeclared.

Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said: “All work matters. All workers deserve their social rights. By launching this campaign today, we want workers, companies, and governments to come together in recognising the benefits of declared work. The EU is stepping up efforts in tackling undeclared work, encouraging cooperation between Member States and raising awareness throughout Europe. Together we can make undeclared work a thing of the past.”

The campaign to transform undeclared into declared work is kicking off on social media (#EU4FairWork). On 16 March 2020, a Week for Action for Declared Workwill start in EU Member States with a range of activities: for example, inspections in sectors at risk, information sessions, visits in secondary schools, and more. The Commission will also adopt a report on the activities of the European Platform tackling undeclared work, composed of the relevant authorities of all Member States and representatives of cross-industry social partners on EU level. The network aims to help EU countries learn from each other and engage in closer cross-border cooperation. The Platform, launched in 2016, is now on its way to becoming part of the European Labour Authority (ELA), allowing to do even more.

What does the Eurobarometer say?

  •   The 2019 Eurobarometer survey recalls that undeclared work is a persisting challenge in the EU, affecting workers, businesses and governments.
  •   One in ten Europeans report they have purchased in the past year goods or services that might include undeclared work.
  •   The most frequently purchased undeclared goods or services are home repairs or renovations (30%), hairdressing and beauty treatments (27%) and repair services (19%).
  •   A third of Europeans know somebody who works undeclared.
  •   The survey also shows that that self-employed and mobile workers are particularly at risk, and highlights emerging challenges related to the collaborative economy.
  •   Half of Europeans think that the risk of being detected is low; however, the share of respondents that perceive a high risk has increased from previous surveys.


At EU level, undeclared work is defined as “paid activities that are lawful as regards their nature but not declared to public authorities, taking into account differences in the regulatory system of Member States”.

National authorities are primarily responsible to tackle undeclared work; at the same time, this is also an important policy objective of the European Employment Strategy, contributing to a fairer European labour market and to the delivery of the European Pillar of Social Rights. In the near future, the European Labour Authority will start coordinating the cooperation efforts at EU level.

For More Information

Related information on the DG EMPL website

Video message by Commissioner Nicolas Schmit

Join the campaign on social media with #EU4FairWork

A message from the European Commission