What should politicians do for freelancers?

Freelancers are used to doing things on their own. But there are some things that are worth joining together for. In late May 2014, Europeans will vote for its next parliament in Brussels. This is a great chance for the freelancers of Europe to come together and send a common message to politicians.

Many of the laws and regulations that affect freelancers’ daily lives have been created without any thought about how they might affect an independent worker. That’s because they were created in a time when a lifelong company job was the norm.

But it is also because freelancers have little ability to inform politicians about the realities of the modern flexible work world. As isolated individuals, our voices are weak, and alone we’re ignorable. But together we’re powerful. After all, there are almost nine million of us – more than the populations of some European countries.

That’s why we’re launching the European Freelancers’ Campaign 2014. We want to get at least 10,000 freelancers to support a simple five-point manifesto about what EU politicians can do for us. We’ll then go to Brussels to show politicians that freelancers can no longer be ignored.

Here are five things we want to tell EU politicians to fix for freelancers.

1. Recognise freelancers: Give us official status at all levels of government and bureaucracy. Realize that we’re not the same as small and medium enterprises or other activity categories. Remember us when you create policy that affects us.

2. Give us access: Make sure freelancers can access all government services, bid for official contracts, access training programs and qualify for funding.

3. Count us: Include us in all official statistics, and study our demographic better. Don’t put us together with other small business categories.

4. Give us a voice: Talk to our representative organizations, give us a seat at the table and appoint an EU freelancers’ envoy to champion our concerns.

5. Treat us fairly: Pay us on time. Write contracts that treat us ethically.

By collecting 10,000 supporters for these five demands, we want to get Europe’s new parliament and commission members thinking about freelancers in a new light. You can add your voice to the campaign by visiting the website www.freelancers-europe.org

Some freelancers might like to see some tougher demands, and others might wish to target things like health care, retirement issues and taxation laws. But many of those concerns are actually controlled by national governments, not at the EU level. For national concerns, freelancers can also turn to local organizations such as the VGSD in Germany, ACTA in Italy, the PCG in the UK and the PZO in the Netherlands.

It was these national organizations that came together to create this new movement. Together we want to create a powerful common voice for freelancers. Because there are some things that independents can do better together than alone.

Support the European Freelancers’ Movement by visiting www.freelancers-europe.org and adding your name.