With the expanding ranks of the UK’s professional contacting community being replicated across Europe, the European Forum of Independent Professionals (EFIP) has called for proper recognition of the EU’s nine million professional freelancers in the form of a manifesto ahead of the forthcoming European parliament elections.
EFIP patron John Niland said that independent working is now “the fastest growing sector of the European labour market.” Despite the personal risk, he added, freelancing is seen by many as a sustainable career in the 21st century – a trend that he believes EU institutions must now recognise.
The PCG’s director of policy, Simon McVicker, endorsed Mr Niland’s plea for recognition, explaining that iPros (independent professionals, such as Umbrella Company Employees) were still practically invisible in academic literature, despite the fact that their numbers have increased by 45% across Europe over the last decade.
Policy makers have for too long failed to consider what impact their policy decisions have on iPros, concentrating instead on the needs of traditional employees, SMEs and big business, Mr McVicker argued, insisting that the time had come for professional freelancing to be “included in the social conversation”.
He added: “Independent professionals deliver growth, flexibility and mitigation of risk for European businesses large and small. In 2014, discussing the economic landscape without including them in the debate fails to acknowledge the vital role they can play in the future success of our economy.”
Amongst the measures the manifesto calls for are more visibility for iPros in official statistics, an iPro envoy to raise the profile of freelancing, and improved access to training and services.