EC negotiates European Works Councils

The European Commission today invited trade unions' and employers' representatives to help improve the role of European Works Councils in consulting and informing employees. European Works Councils (EWCs) currently operate in 820 major companies across the EU, covering some 14.5 million employees. Today's second stage consultation gives social partners the opportunity to start negotiations on updating and improving the way the bodies operate, with a view to revising the existing legislation.

The revision of the 1994 Directive governing European Works Councils is one of the Commission's legislative priorities for 2008. European Works Councils are an important instrument in ensuring socially acceptable corporate restructuring and in developing European partnerships at corporate level.

The social partners are being asked, in particular, to express their opinions on possible measures to ensure the effectiveness of employees' transnational information and consultation rights. They are also asked to recommend ways to improve the practical application of the Directive and ensure more coherence among the various Community legislative instruments in the field of information and consultation of employees.

The consultation with the social partners (under Article 138 of the Treaty) will run for six weeks. They then have the possibility to launch negotiations (under Article 139) with a view to concluding a European-level agreement, which then forms the basis of revised legislation.

Further information
European Works Councils are vital to the development of transnational industrial relations and help to reconcile economic and social objectives within the Single Market. After 11 years of activity, all the European stakeholders emphasise the positive impact of these bodies established by Directive 94/45/EC and the decisive role they have to play in the anticipation and responsible management of change