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Recast of European Works Council Directive

After 10 years of attempts to amend the EWC directive (94/45/EC) on 16 May 2009 the European Commission announced a revised recast directive 2009/38/EC. The new directive – adopted in April 2009 – is the outcome of an intense legislative process that took place throughout 2008.

In 2018 the publication of the official report on implementation of the EWC Recast Directive by the European Commission marks what is expected to be a begining of another stage in the improvement of their legal framework.

After an initial lack of compromise among the Social Partners concerning negotiations they managed to break the deadlock and agreed upon Joint Advice (29 August 2008). The Joint Advice facilitated political compromise on the issue and served as an informal indication for the European Parliament in preparing its position. Following a tight coordination between the works of the European Parliament and the Council it was possible to adopt the EP's report on the 16/12/2008 in the first reading. Subsequently, on 23 April 2009 the Council adopted a revised directive on European Works Councils (EWCs).

The most important changes in the recast directive 2009/38/EC relate to:

  • Inclusion of a definition of information
  • Improvement of the definition of consultation
  • Inclusion of a definition of transnationality and clarification of the transnational competence of EWCs
  • Link between various levels of employee information and consultation
  • Employers' obligation to provide EWC members with training
  • Facilities provided to the SNB, such as pre and post meetings, the presence of experts –
    including trade union members- in the negotiation meetings
  • Obligation to inform the European social partners of negotiations (= recognition of the role of the European social partners)
  • Mandate for the employee reps in the EWC to collectively represent the employees and obligation for the management to provide the EWC with means necessary to perform this function

Some changes were made also in regard to the Subsidiary Requirements (concept of consultation, explanation to EWC of grounds for managments decline of EWCs opinion, the composition of EWCs, number of Select Committee members)

Chronology of the EWC Recast / review - Key docs

Chronological overview of (selected) stages of the EWC revision process

Brief overview on the revision process

In art. 15 of the EWC Directive (94/45/EC) the European Commission bound itself to pursue a review of the directive by 1999. In April 2004, almost five years after the deadline set out in the Directive itself, the European Commission officially started the review of the European Works Council (EWC) Directive. In its communication, the Commission emphasised the positive contribution that EWCs have made, particularly in dealing with structural changes.

In the adopted EWC Recast Directive 2009/38/EC Art. 15 stipulated that "No later than 5 June 2016, the Commission shall report to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on the implementation of this Directive, making appropriate proposals where necessary". The Commission published the report in May May 2018, i.e. with a two year delay.

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Overview on new articles in the directive

The table provides an overview of new articles in Directive 2009/38/EC

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Table: ETUC demands and Commission proposal

Comparative table demands ETUC / proposal Commission

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The ETUC position paper - For a modern European Works Council (EWC) Directive in the Digital Era

In the run up to the long announced and posponed announecement of the European Commission's report on the implementation of the EWC Recast directive the European Trade Union Confederation during its Executive Committee's meeting in Malta on 15-16 March, 2017.

In 10 points the ETUC regroups its demands concerning amendments that the current legal framework requires.

The ETUC's demands can be viewed below or the document downloaded from the ETUC homepage.

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Expert workshop on the impact of the Recast Directive on European Works Councils

On 25-26 February 2016 the ETUI's unit 'Europeanisation of industrial relations' organised a workshop focused on taking stock of the existing research on the impact of and of relevance for the changes introduced by the

Recast Directive on European Works Councils.

The workshop was attended by top experts and academics in the field and provided for a much needed overview of EWC research completed and ongoing in the past 5-8 years.

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EWC Recast Evaluation Infopack: publications by the ETUI

In the run-up to the official Evaluation Report by the European Commission expected in Autumn 2016 the debate on this topic is in full swing. In the last Expert Meeting organised by the European Commission on 23/06/2016 gathering representatives of national authorities (ministries) responsible for the implementation of the EWC Recast Directive as well as representatives of trade unions (political: ETUC, ETUFs and national unions; research: ETUI) and employers (BusinessEurope) final outcomes of a study completed by consultancy ICFI for the European Commission were presented.

The ETUI has been contributing to the debate with several publications providing robust facts and figures from various angles. We gather them for you in this 'EWC Recast Evaluation Infopack'.

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Evaluating the EWC Recast Directive: "Too little, too late" ETUI Report by S. De Spiegelaere

In 2009, the long awaited (since 1999) Recast Directive on European Works Councils (EWCs) was adopted. Its most important goals were to (1) improve the effectiveness of EWCs and (2) increase the amount of EWCs. In 2016, the implementation of the Recast Directive is to be evaluated by the European Commission that prepares its own report on the topic. This report feeds into the evaluation debate by building on data from analysis of 1200+ EWC agreements stored in the EWC Database managed by the ETUI.

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Managers, BusinessEurope and the development of European Works Councils by J. Waddington, V. Pulignano and J. Turk

Copyright @ R.Jagodzinski 2016

The ETUI has just published a new Working Paper by Jeremy Waddington (ETUI and University of Manchester), Valeria Pulignano and Jeffrey Turk (University of Leuven), Thomas Swerts (University of Antwerp) on a very topical question of assessing the operation of European Works Councils.

The Working Papper's relevance is (at least) twofold:

1) it presents and explains management's views on the effectiveness, usefulness, roles and operation of European Works Councils (research on management's perspective on EWCs is scarce and rare);

2) it represents a timely contribution to the ongoing debate on EWCs preceeding the European Commission's evaluation report on the implementation of the directive (and its possible review/recast/revision) expected in autumn 2016;

The publication can be downloaded freely from:


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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.

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Conference Paper: 'Are European fundamental rights to information and consultation getting diluted by national implementations? Study on implementation of European Works Councils Directive 2009/38/EC in the field of access to justice'

By Romuald Jagodzinski

The ETUI continues its research on EWCs' access to justice. During the 2014 Industrial Relations in Europe Conference (IREC) conference 'IREC 2014 - The future of the European Social Model – New perspectives for industrial relations, social and employment policy in Europe?' held at the Eurofound in Dublin on 12-14 September 2014 a paper by Romuald Jagodziński discussing implementation of sanctions for violation of EWC laws across Europe was presented.

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ETUI academic workshop on the EWC Recast Directive

On 25-26th February, 2016 the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) is organising a academic/research workshop on the EWC Recast Directive.

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European Works Councils: a trade union guide to directive 2009/38/EC by Severine Picard

Séverine Picard (ETUC Legal Advisor)

Publication date : 2010


Number of pages : 138


Author(s) :

Séverine Picard (ETUC Legal Advisor)


This guide has been developed by the ETUC in order to help trade unionists and practitioners in the area of information and consultation around Europe to play an active role in this process and to make the most of the new provisions in the European Works Council Directive as amended by Directive 2009/38/EC. It is an article-by-article legal commentary, written in an accessible style so that it can be used by everybody with interest in European Works Councils and their functioning. Part I contains general remarks on objectives and principles. Parts II, III and IV contain an article by article analysis of the provisions of the Directive and their consequences. A summary table of the guide can be found in Part V.


Collection: 114
ETUI, Brussels, ISBN 978-2-87452-180-5 , ISBN 978-2-87452-181-2 (pdf)


For more information, please contact

Free download

EFFAT's new brochure 'Practical guidelines for EWC Coordinators and trade union officers'

EFFAT – the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions – has recently published a practical guide for EWC coordinators and trade union officers.

The guide is addressed to practitioners and offers a useful overview of topical EWC issues, ranging from the assessment of the EWC Recast Directive to transnational company agreements, psychosocial risks, handling information, precarious work, gender equality, social audits and more. The guide will soon be available in other languages.

An essential must-read for EWC experts.

Should you like to make full use of the hyperlinks in the handbook, please write to the EFFAT Secretariat at the following address: v.infantino@effat.org

For further information on the guide please contact e.somaglia@effat.org and follow EFFAT on Twitter at @EFFAT_Press

Downloaad the Effat EWC brochure 2016