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New book on European Works Councils: 'Variations on a theme? The implementation of the EWC Recast Directive'

Publication date : 2015

Number of pages : 199

Edited by : Romuald Jagodzinski (ETUI)

Contributions by: Jan Cremers, Filip Dorssemont, Sylvaine Laulom, Pascale Lorber and Romuald Jagodziński

Since 1994, the EU has established mechanisms for information and consultation procedures for workers in transnational companies (European Works Councils Directive 94/45/EC). In 2009, the EWC Directive was reviewed and amended (Recast EWC Directive 2009/38/EC). The year 2016 will see the formal conclusion of a new evaluation procedure designed to ascertain whether the improvements of 2009 have had any impact on teh EWC's conditions of operation and whether any further amendements should be considered.

This book assesses in detail the ways in which key improvements brought about by the 2009 EWC Recast Directive have been implemented in national legislation.

The authors of the book have looked into the national transposition legislation of the 31 countries of the European Economic Area. The findings are very relevant for EU policy-making and for practitioners to deal with differing national legislative regimes.

Some of the main findings of the book are:

- National level social partners were included in pre-implementation negotiations to a very varying extent, and in some Member States not consulted at all, which had impact on the quality of national transposition acts.

- Definitions of information and consultation were, in the vast majority of cases, transposed literally (copy-paste), rarely providing essential supplementary details. The same applies to definitions of transnationality, where only few Member States referred to explanations and principles set by the Preamble of the Directive.

- Problems with implementation of the rules on confidentiality of information: in many Member States confidentiality requirements are in contradiction with the EWC members’ duty to report back to workers; often rules on judicial redress to challenge confidentiality are missing; finally, sanctions for breaching confidentiality by EWC members are common, but not for companies that abuse confidentiality.

- Specific rules and procedures on social partners’ increased role in EWCs (duty to inform them about launch of EWC negotiations) missing in almost all Member States.

- Specific means and resources for EWCs (meetings, communication, training, etc.) and protection for EWC members in many respects only formally applied (mainly copy/paste from the Recast Directive).

- Enforcement frameworks do not guarantee universal access to justice: EWCs often have no capacity to act in courts, have no means to seek legal counsel and sanctions are not ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive’.

The authors of the book make the following recommendations:

- The forthcoming 2016 Implementation Evaluation must be focused on practical effectiveness of the new rights in a holistic context, and not merely on formal presence of provisions.

- Copy-paste from the directive should not be considered proper implementation.

- The European Commission should assume its role of the ‘Guardian of the Treaties’ and require improvements from the Member States where necessary.

ETUI, Brussels,

ISBN 978-2-87452-386-1

ISBN 978-2-87452-387-8 (pdf)

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