EU employment ministers agreed Monday on a series of measures meant to end tax and other abuses among foreign workers, an increasingly sensitive issue just months ahead of European elections.
"We have finally reached agreement," said Lithuania's Algimanta Pabedinskiene who chaired the ministers' meeting.
"It will help to protect the rights of the posted workers and will prevent possible abuses and infringements," she said.
'Posted workers' is the EU term for workers sent by a firm in one member state to work in another, most usually in the construction industry.
Under EU rules, they are supposed to be employed on the conditions prevalent in their host country but very often they are paid on their home country terms.
This leads to charges of 'social dumping' with locals priced out of jobs and to claims such foreign workers abuse the social security systems of their host country.
Such charges have become a hot political issue, with calls for restrictions sparking concerns the EU's core value of freedom of movement could be at risk.
Officials gave no details of the Monday accord, which will now form the basis of negotiations with the European Parliament on updating current legislation.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the new rules would "reduce the room for cheating and abuse.
"They will make the single European market fairer by limiting the scope for social dumping and the exploitation of workers," Schluz said in a statement.