EU framework for information, consultation and participation rights
More than 35 EU directives provide for workers' information and consultation rights of some kind (see Palette of Workers' Participation Rights). The directives are a clear expression of the willingness at European level to make employees citizens in their workplace. This is also mirrored in the EU Charter of fundamental rights (the Lisbon Treaty) which gives information and consultation rights the status of a basic right of European citizens (see Worker Participation and the Lisbon goals).
The idea of workers' information, consultation and participation has slowly evolved into a more encompassing concept of democracy at work. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) gave expression to this evolution as "part of a broader approach for a more Social Europe which is urgently needed." (see ETUC 2020 publication and video).
Information about relevant regulation can be found here:
- General framework for informing and consulting employees (Directive 2002/14/EC)
- Transposition of Framework Directive for informing and consulting employees (Directive 2002/14/EC)
In this context, we can thus ask:
What are European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Councils?
European Works Councils (EWCs) and European Company (Societas Europaea) Works Councils (SE WCs) are key information and consultation mechanisms for representing workers across Europe. European Works Councils are an essential European counterpart to national-level workers’ participation, while European Company Works Councils respond to the development of the Community-wide corporate form. According to the ETUI European Works Council database (EWCDB), as of 23 February 2021, multinational corporations (MNCs) with a European Works Council totalled 1,158; the number of European Works Councils ever created was 1,619; and the active European Works Councils number 1,189.
Why focus on European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Councils?
Transnational and democratic representation of workers is vital given recognition of their rights to information and consultation as EU fundamental rights, particularly as company operations increasingly Europeanise and restructure.
In the worker-participation.eu website, the focus on European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Councils recognises their ongoing importance as transnational workplace instruments across Europe. More than 1,250 European Works Councils and a smaller number of European Company Works Councils are in operation. Knowledge of how they function and are framed by regulation equips workers, trade unions, and other stakeholders with a solid grasp of their meaning for, and utility in, the pursuit of workers’ rights, participation, and influence in the region.
Revisions in EU law for these transnational workplace instruments over outlined in this historical overview.
On this worker-participation.eu website, we provide commentary and analysis of special topics concerning European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Councils:
- Status of the Recast European Works Council revision process
- Overview of European Works Council training rights
- European Works Councils and confidentiality
What ETUI does on European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Councils
The ETUI conducts a wide range of research on European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Council issues. Workers, trade unions, and other stakeholders' understanding of how European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Councils function, and how such representation may develop, is key to augmenting workers' influence and company performance informed by workers’ knowledge and democratic participation.
The worker-participation.eu website houses a suite of ETUI studies on significant European Works Council and European Company (SE) Works Council issues. These span quantitative and qualitative assessments, often drawing on the extensive European Works Council database (EWCdb).
- European Works Councils and the Recast EWC Directive 2009/38/EC
- Challenges for European Works Councils
- European Works Councils and Management
- European Works Councils, Worker Participation and Democracy at Work
- Articulation between European Works Councils and other workplace representation instruments
- European Works Councils and Company Restructuring
- European Works Councils rights, enforcement and sanctions
- European Works Councils and Confidentiality
Older material on European Works Councils and European Company Works Councils is also archived on the worker-participation.eu website (Other resources).
Regulation and national transposition laws
EU-level regulation frames and has been transposed into national law on European Works Councils and European Company Works Councils. European Works Councils have developed in response to the adoption of European Works Council Directives 94/45/EC and the Recast 2009/38/EC. The development of European Company Works Councils has been enabled by the adoption of the European Company (SE) 2001/86/EC with regard to the involvement of employees.
European Works Council (EWC) regulation
- European Works Council Recast Directive 2009/38/EC
- European Works Council national transposition laws
- Archive of European Works Council laws
- Legislation Section
You can also find all the national transposition acts of the EU Directive 2009/38/EC on the EWC database in original languages and an English translation (automated).
European Company (SE) Works Council regulation
- Statute for a European Company (Societas Europaea (SE) Council Regulation 2157/2001/EC
- European Company (SE) Works Council Directive 2001/86/EC supplementing the Statute for a SE with regard to the involvement of employees
- European Company (SE) Works Council national transposition laws
- National transposition of the SE legislation
- Countries and their Transposition of SE DIrective 2001/86/EC
- overview of legislation associated with SE and SE Works Councils
- Related EU documents/reports (including the national transposition laws) can be downloaded from the EU Commission website.
European Works Council Database (EWCDB)
The ETUI’s unique European Works Council Database contains detailed information about the European Works Council population and the contents of European Works Council agreements. Upon registration, you will have free access to:
- About the European Works Council Database
- European Works Council database search engines with save facilities
- Content analysis of European Works Council agreements
- Live statistics from automatic charts online
If you are a European Works Council member, please contribute to the worker-participation.eu database and send us your European Works Council agreement.
Want to provide feedback on the European Works Council Database?
European Works Council jurisprudence
In 2008, the ETUI Workers' Participation Unit began to research and collect European Works Council (EWC)-related court cases. Until that time, information on EWC-related litigation was dispersed, ad hoc and fragmentary. The attempt to collect this information in a structured way resulted in creating a dedicated subsection of the European Works Councils database (EWCDB). The jurisprudence database has continued to grow and comprises court cases, related articles, and documentation. All of the cases are linked to EWCs registered in the EWC database and searchable via the below search engine.
European Works Council-related Jurisprudence Database
The worker-participation.eu website houses a body of key court cases, decisions and commentaries on European Works Councils. The ETUI's European Works Council-related Jurisprudence Fatabase is located within the EWCdb, and contains the following resources:
- European Court of Justice level jurisprudence on European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Councils. These cases are either directly linked to European Works Councils or indirectly linked to European Works Councils (i.e. subsidiary jurisprudence relevant for European Works Council rights and operation)
- National-level jurisprudence on European Works Councils and European Company (SE) Works Councils. These cases are either directly linked to European Works Councils or indirectly linked to European Works Councils.
Currently, the full database is restricted to internal access only.
Frequently asked questions
- About European Works Councils - FAQ.
- About the revision of the European Works Council (EWC) Directive (Recast) FAQ - Directive