The European Company (SE) has added additional facets on obligatory worker involvement at European level particularly by including – for the first time – participation rights at company board level. As of 8 October 2004 it became possible to establish a European Company (SE). The main purpose of the SE statute (EC 2157/2001) is to enable companies to operate their businesses on a cross-border basis in Europe under the same corporate regime. An important feature of this new company form is that – by means of the associated SE Directive (2001/86/EC) – obligatory negotiations on worker involvement in SEs were introduced which include the question of representation of the workforce at board level.


Review 2010-13

The European Commission has started the review of the European Company Statute as foreseen in Art. 69 SE of the SE Regulation. The Commission shall forward to the Council and the European Parliament a report on the application of the Regulation and proposals for amendments, where appropriate. In this section we follow-up the discussions and proposals with regard to a possible revision of the SE legislation.

History of the European Company statute (ECS) History

The table provides an overview of the more than 40-year-long history of the European Company. This delay was caused by a deadlock in the Council of Ministers where unanimity was required. Resistance arose also on the question of board-level representation of employees. Objections were raised by "both sides": While countries with strong systems of board-level representation (like Germany or Austria) feared a weakening of their national systems, countries with rather weak - or even non-existent - board-level representation (like the UK and Spain) were afraid of importing something that is unknown to their industrial relations systems.

Countries / Transposition

Transposed on time (8 October 2004)

Transposed since October 2004





European Cooperative Society (Directive 2003/72/EC) European Cooperative Society

The European Cooperative Society (SCE) aims to reduce existing cross-border obstacles for cooperatives and to make it easier for them to operate across European borders. The SCE thereby complements the legislation on European Companies (SE) which has enabled companies to set up as a European public limited company. As in the case of the SE, the SCE legislation consists of a Regulation on the Statute for an SCE (1435/2003) and an accompanying Directive on worker involvement (2003/72/EC). The Regulation came into force from 18 August 2006, by which date the member states also had to transpose the Directive into national law.

Further information on the SCE can be found on the website of the EU Commission.


Jan Cremers, Michael Stollt and Sigurt Vitols (ed.) A decade of experience with the European Company

Key questions addressed in the book are: How has the SE been implemented in practice? How great has the uptake of the European Company by the business community been? Are there significant differences between countries and sectors? What impact has the European Company had on business practice? Has it improved company mobility and flexibility? What impact has it had on national industrial relations systems and Social Europe? To what extent has it inspired other legislative initiatives by the EU Commission? What will the likely future development of the European Company be?

Publication date : 2013

Number of pages : 313

ETUI, Brussels, ISBN 978-2-87452-283-3

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More information and order (ETUI website)

Michael Stollt, Elwin Wolters Worker involvement in the European Company (SE) - A handbook for practitioners Brussels: ETUI, 2011

In October 2001, the EU formally adopted the legislation on the European Company, also known by its Latin name Societas Europaea (SE). This handbook aims to ensure that the new opportunities for employee representation at European level which these new SE rules provide, are seized. It has been designed first and foremost to help practitioners to prepare and conduct negotiations on agreements on employee involvement in SEs.

Buy printed version : 15 Euro

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Michael Stollt, Elwin Wolters Implication des travailleurs dans la Société européenne (SE) - Guide pour les acteurs de terrain Brussels: ETUI, 2013