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EU Corporate Governance plans stick to shareholder paradigm

On 12 December European Commissioner Michel Barnier published the long-awaited EU Action Plan on European Company Law and Corporate Governance. The sixteen proposals made contain little in the way of correcting the power imbalance that currently exists between shareholders on the one hand and stakeholders (particularly employees) on the other hand in the governance of European companies. more

Time for a makeover for EU takeovers

The latest issue of the ETUI’s Worker Participation news bulletin was published on 19 November. The editorial lead article written by the Institute’s associate researcher Sigurt Vitols takes a critical look at the European Union’s legislation on company takeovers and finds it lacking in terms of worker involvement rights during the takeover process.

As the EU Commission prepares a new communication on company law and corporate governance, the article makes the case for a revision of EU takeover law which would be more stakeholder than shareholder-centered and which would provide “a better balance between the rights of shareholders and the protection of workers as key stakeholders in the company”.

Other highlights of the newsletter include news on a draft report of the European parliament on worker involvement, anticipation and restructuring, latest developments on European companies and European Works Councils, and a quick look at the EU Commission’s legislative work programme for 2013. more

Transnational collective bargaining at company level. A new component of European industrial relations?

Transnational collective bargaining (TCB) has become a ‘hot’ topic of European industrial relations. As well as collective bargaining between workers and employers conducted at the sectoral or national level, negotiations on employee rights and working conditions now also take place at the supranational level, within multinational companies. It is a development that poses major challenges for trade unions, as well as for employers and lawmakers. This book takes stock of the particular challenges faced by trade union representatives, works councils and employer organisations; it reviews the existing literature on this topic and examines contrasting views of the prospects for subsequent development of this new practice; it also offers some practical suggestions for policymakers who find themselves having to deal with this new component of the Europeanisation of industrial relations. more

Are employee participation rights under pressure? Trends at national and EU level

Just a few weeks before the launch of a new Action Plan on Company Law and Corporate Governance by Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, this Policy brief seeks to review the stakeholder model of corporate governance that prevails in Europe by looking at the evolution of board-level employee representation rights in the light of national and European developments. more

Revue de l'IRES (n° 71) La participation des salariés au niveau européen

The French Institute for Economic and Social Research (IRES) has dedicated its latest issue of its Revue de l'IRES to the issue employee participation at European level. The issue includes articles on European Works Councils, the European Company (SE) and transnational company bargaining. All articles are available for free download on the IRES website, abstracts are available in English. more

In focus – corporate governance structure of SEs

An SE can freely choose between a monistic or dualistic board structure. This also applies to countries where national company forms such a choice does not (yet) exist. Overall, the picture reveals a clear prevalence of SEs governed by a dualistic board structure. However, one has to take into consideration the uneven distribution of SEs throughout Europe: 4 out of 5 SEs are registered in Germany and the Czech Republic, in which national public limited companies must have a two-tier system of corporate governance. more

News on European Companies

During the summer period and the first month of the autumn, the pace of SE establishments – in other countries than the Czech Republic – slowed down. As of 1 October 2012 a total of 1,426 registered SEs were listed in the ECDB. In terms of current distribution, the situation did not change a lot: less than one-seventh of the SEs today have been identified by the ECDB as having more than five employees. In practice, however, the number of normal SEs might be significantly higher as a consequence of the persisting gap in employment information caused by insufficient publication rules in the SE legislation. more

Worker Participation 2030 – Now also available in German

The Worker Participation 2030 scenarios are now also available in German and can be downloaded for free. The publication sets itself an audacious task: casting a long look forward into the future, namely the year 2030. Four alternative scenarios explore the long-term prospects and changing contexts of worker participation, in its various forms, in Europe. Scenarios are not intended to predict the future, but to provide the reader with a ‘future map’ of what might be. more

worker-participation.eu - News Bulletin

The new issue of the News Bulletin is now online. more

Editorial: DG Internal Market and Worker Involvement: Where’s the beef?

With the halftime of the “new” European Commission rapidly approaching, more and more observers are asking “where’s the beef?” with regard to DG Markt’s approach to worker involvement. The expression “where’s the beef?” first became popular in the US in the 1980s in a TV commercial made by the fast food chain Wendy’s, where a fictional competitor “Home of the Big Bun” is lampooned for offering a tiny hamburger patty which can hardly be found within an enormous bun. The expression is now widely used in North America to criticize policies which appear to be quite substantial, but below the surface do not live up to expectations. Read the editorial

In focus – information and consultation procedures in SEs

Data of the ETUI's European Company Database (ECDB) show that a special negotiating body (SNB) has not been set up nor agreement reached on worker involvement in the overwhelming majority of currently registered SEs. One explanation is that many SEs were originally set up as employee-free companies (usually as a subsidiary). If we look only at the companies identified as having employees (213 SEs) the setting-up of an SNB is known to have taken place in 97 cases. more

News on European Companies (SE)

As of 1 June 2012 a total of 1,286 registered SEs were listed in the ECDB, 173 more than at the time of the previous update (1 March 2012). In terms of current distribution, the situation did not change a lot: less than one-sixth of the SEs today have been identified by the ECDB as having more than five employees. In practice, however, the number of normal SEs might be significantly higher as a consequence of the persisting gap in employment information caused by insufficient publication rules in the SE legislation. more

The SE Facts and Figures slides have been updated as well in lign with the latest SE data.

Translation of National Industrial Relations Update online

The updated reports on national industrial relations are now available in French and German.

Manual for European Workers’ Representatives: 01 How to make your meetings more successful

The booklet was developed by the European Workers’ Participation Competence Centre (EWPCC). It is the first of a series of practical and helpfully illustrated manuals for workers’ representatives in transnational information and consultation bodies. The first manual offers some practical tips on how to make meetings European bodies (auch as EWC or SE works councils) more useful, more efficient and more successful. The manual is currently available in eight languages (EN, FR, SW, ES, NL, DE, GR, PL) and can be downloaded as pdf. more

Benchmarking Working Europe 2012 - Social inequality worsening in European Union

A new comprehensive study launched on 5 March by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) confirms growing forms of social inequality in all EU member states. This worrying trend is the result of long-term policy choices for market liberalism and the prioritisation of harsh austerity programmes as a result of the financial and fiscal crisis post-2008. ETUI and ETUC will launch the joint report Benchmarking Working Europe 2012 on 20 March 2012 (Brussels). more

News on European Companies

As of 1 March 2012, a total of 1,113 registered SEs were listed in the ETUI’s European Company (SE) Database (ECDB), 120 more than at the time of the previous update (1 December 2011). We have also updated our SE Facts and Figures slides. A new slide has been added showing the geographical distribution of the 68 SEs having already transferred their seat into another member state. more

2 Vacancies at ETUI

The ETUI is recruiting a researcher specialised in comparative research on multinational corporations and employee representation and a researcher specialised in comparative research on industrial relations and specifically collective bargaining. Applications and supporting documents (CV, evidence of qualifications, list of publications, etc.) should be sent before 11 March 2012 to the ETUI. More information can be found in the job adds on the ETUI website.

Commission proposes European Foundation Statute / EP hearing on employee shareholding

The European Commission presented on 8 February 2012 a proposal for a European Foundation Statute. The goal of the proposal is to make it easier for foundations to operate across national borders in the EU. more

A public hearing in the European Parliament on employee shareholding has been rescheduled for 22 March 2012. more

worker-participation.eu - News Bulletin

The new issue of the News Bulletin is now online. more

Sustainability and Scenario building - The need to strengthen a culture of long-term thinking

The transition towards sustainability is – in its different dimensions – a key challenge faced by humankind today. And yet, although there is a largely shared consensus as regards the need to take up this challenge, the gap between intentions and actions has never been more startling. A major hurdle still on the path is that sustainability does not – or at least does not yet – hold sufficient appeal. In people’s minds it usually tends to be connected with ideas of waiving or prohibiting, with fears of higher costs, job losses or a potential reduction of personal freedom. One reason for this ‘image problem’ from which sustainability suffers is that we lack stories and pictures about the future. The new is hard to imagine and this reduces its attractiveness. There is a general preference for sticking with what is familiar because it has been handed down from the past. more (Editorial Just transition Newsletter)

EU consultation on the SCE

The Regulation on the European Cooperative Scoiety (SCE) requires the Commission to present a report on its application five years after its entry into force. The Commission launched a study which was finalised in October 2010. The responsible Directorate General Enterprise (the SME section) launched mid April 2011 a web-based consultation on the functioning of the European Cooperative Society, to which the ETUC has contributed with a critical assessment. In November 2011 the European Commission summarised the contributions received in a synthesis document. The SEEurope update report examines the key outcomes of the document. more

Seminar "Financial analysis and business economics"

The purpose of this two-day seminar (12-13 March 2012) is to help workers’ representatives in supervisory or administrative boards of SEs to face one of the most complicated and most important responsibilities they have : to critically assess the financial data provided to them by their company. Indeed, only a thorough understanding of those data will enable them to have a clear view on the corporate strategies and consider employee-friendly alternatives. more

Update: Country reports on Financial Participation (French and German version online)

The German and French translation of the update on financial participation in Europe is now online. The section provides information on the national systems of financial participation in each of the 27 EU member states, basic data on profit-sharing and employee share ownership, the legal background, trade union positions and further links. German - French

News on European Companies

By 1 December, the number of SEs in the European Company (SE) Database (ECDB) had reached almost 1,000: currently, the ECDB lists exactly 993 companies. Since the last News (1 September 2011), 85 new SEs have been registered. 25 European countries now host European Companies. more

Also our 'SE Facts and Figures' have been updated with the latest data.

Worker involvement in the European Company (SE) - A handbook for practitioners

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. The handbook introduces the SE and its mechanism of employee involvement. It explains the negotiation procedures and provides ‘tips and tricks’ for a decent preparation of negotiations. Based on the experience of several experts, it gives an overview of key aspects of an SE agreement and includes an extensive set of overviews, graphics and comparative tables. more

Board-level employee representation rights in Europe (ETUI report)

17 European Member States and Norway have enacted legal provisions allowing for employee representation, with voting rights, on the supervisory board and/or board of directors of companies headquartered on their national territory. Additional provisions regulating Board-level employee representation [BLER] are to be found in several pieces of European company law. Even so, BLER remains a hotly debated topic at both national and European levels.
This report presents the ins-and-outs of BLER, describing the current situation, potential future developments, and the issues at stake. It aims to provide an overview of BLER rights as well as of the major trends to have emerged in recent years. In this way, information gleaned through the SEEurope network helps to answer a key question, namely, is BLER in Europe under pressure? (Available in English and German) more

Social partner 2011 consultation SE Directive

The European Commission opened in July 2011 a consultation of the social partners on the possible review of the SE Directive. In the consultation document and a cover letter the Commission listed ‘three problematic areas’ concerning the rules on employee involvement contained in the Directive: (a) the complexity of the procedure for employee involvement; (b) the lack of legal certainty concerning certain aspects of the negotiation procedure; and (c) the concern that the use of the SE form could affect the rights to employee involvement granted by national or EU law. In the documents the European Commission raised four questions related to these areas. The national SEEurope experts reacted to the questions based on their expertise. In the meantime, both ETUC and Business Europe have reacted to the consultation document. more

SEEurope summary report: Questions related to the review of the SE Directive – Basic considerations for the Social Partners’ consultation

The European Commission decided in July 2011 to reopen the consultation on the SE legislation. The new initiative was a first-phase consultation of the social partners under Article 154 TFEU on the possible review of Directive 2001/86/EC supplementing the Statute for a European company with regard to the involvement of employees. The ETUC consulted the affiliates based on a draft submission paper that was formulated in cooperation with the ETUI’s SEEurope team. In summer 2011 the national SEEurope experts were also asked to react to the questions raised in the consultation documents based on their expertise. more

European Panel: Workers’ participation – Building a more democratic and social Europe

This year’s European Panel conference, organized by the Hans-Böckler and Friedrich-Ebert Foundations and the ETUI in cooperation with the German and European Trade Union Confederations, will take place on 8 and 9 November in The Hotel in Brussels.

Distinguished speakers will focus on the application of co-determination in Europe and will put forward demands to the European Parliament and Commission in order to develop and strengthen workers' participation across the EU. European Panel 2011 presents topics for future European debate and provides a forum for exchanging ideas with other participants from all over Europe.

For more information and registration, please contact Katharina Kruse, Tel.: +49.0211 - 7778-111

Download agenda:

worker-participation.eu - News Bulletin

The new issue of the News Bulletin is now online. more

Sectoral factsheets

There are currently some 40 sectoral social dialogue committees, which have produced a wide range of joint texts and agreements. Information on 20 further sectors has now been added to the collection of European Sectoral Social Dialogue Factsheets. more

Employee representation in corporate governance: part of the economic or the social sphere?

Observers of the European Company legislative process identified the then-competing political projects as being driven in one case by the desire for harmonization, whereas the other focused on a flexible approach to regulating employee participation. Since the European institutions have definitively adopted the latter approach in the meantime, this reading became obsolete. This ETUI Working Paper proposes to adopt a new analytical framework that will help give better insight into what is at stake in the drafting of European legal rules on corporate governance and worker participation, such as the pending European Private Company Statute. more

News from the ETUI's European Company (SE) Database

As far as the establishment of SE is concerned the summer proved to be a very dynamic period. As of September 2011, a total of 909 registered SE companies were listed in the ETUI’s European Company Database (ECDB), 92 more than at the time of the previous update (June 2011). The significant growth in the number of SE registrations is still largely due to the establishment of shelf companies in the Czech Republic. more

Update: Country reports on Financial Participation

Our section on financial participation in Europe has been entirely updated. It provides information on the national systems of financial participation in each of the 27 EU member states, basic data on profit-sharing and employee share ownership, the legal background, trade union positions and further links. The overview section offers a summary of similarities, differences and trends in this field. The update in French and German will follow. more

The EWC landscape on the eve of the transposition deadline of the recast directive 2009/38/EC Evidence from the ETUI database of European Works Councils

The brochure which has been published for the ETUC Congress in Athens contains pre-selected data from the forthcoming ETUI publication ‘Mapping European Works Councils’. It aims at delivering basic figures (from the ETUI database of EWCs) concerning the operation of EWCs and the workers they represent on the eve of the EWC recast directive’s transposition deadline. The provided information will allow evaluation of the new legislation’s impact on EWCs as it will offer a point of reference for measuring the attainment of some of the goals set by the recast directive. It will also be of particular relevance in relation to the goal of increasing the number of EWCs. more

News from the ETUI's European Company (SE) Database

As of June 2011, a total of 817 registered SE companies were listed in the European Company Database (ECDB), 66 more than at the time of the previous update (March 2011). In January and February quite a few normal SEs were registered, but only three new SEs (2 German and 1 Hungarian) were added to the category after March 2011. more

Also our 'SE Facts and Figures' have been updated with the latest data.

Garibaldo, Francesco / Telljohann, Volker (eds.) The Ambivalent Character of Participation.

Participation is a social process, which is basically part of an exchange relationship. Thus, it is principally pluralist and ambiguous in its meaning. As a consequence, the reconciliation of voices needs innovative approaches to support balanced participation experiences. The ambivalent character of participation intends to provide a look at new initiatives in the various fields of workplace participation. Leading international scholars examine the role of institutional contexts for participation, the development of new forms of interest organisation as well as the relationship between organisational performance, participation practices and quality of working life. The contributions are not limited to taking stock of new experiences in the field of workplace participation, but also contribute to designing a new research agenda. More information can be found here (opens in new window).

Garibaldo, Francesco / Telljohann, Volker (eds.) The Ambivalent Character of Participation. New Tendencies in Worker Participation in Europe. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2010. 715 pp. Labour, Education & Society. Vol. 20 www.peterlang.com
Book synopsis

worker-participation.eu - News Bulletin

The new issue of our News Bulletin is now available. It is published 3 times a year. If you would like to receive it by email, please send us an email. more

Transfer issue on employee participation at company level and social dialogue

This Transfer issue is to take stock of the various Commission initiatives in the fields of employee participation at company level and social dialogue generally. A particular focus lies on the opportunities and challenges which these initiatives provide to trade unions in terms of their capacity to influence developments at European level. more

Report: EWPCC seminar on confidentiality in Europe’s company boardrooms

In March, the ETUI’s European Workers Participation Conference Centre (EWPCC) organised a first interactive training for SE board-level employee representatives. The purpose of this two-day seminar was to help worker representatives to deal with everyday problems related to information declared to be confidential. Representatives from nine different companies and five different countries exchanged ideas and experiences, were informed about the regulations concerning the subject of confidentiality and discussed with trade union experts and practitioners. A report and the presentations can now be found on the EWPCC site. more

Book launch - The Sustainable Company (12 July 2011, Brussels)

On 12 July 2011 in Brussels, keynote speakers will discuss current challenges and policy alternatives in corporate governance in Europe. Panel sessions will debate new ideas and alternatives presented in the book The Sustainable Company - changing the way our corporations are governed in the interests of stakeholders and society. The programme can be found here (.pdf). More information on the book is available here.

ETUI fringe meeting at ETUC congress: 'European Challenges for Worker Involvement' (16 May 2011)

During the first day of the 12th ETUC Congress the ETUI will organise a ‘fringe meeting’ on worker involvement in European companies. The programme is as follows.

Jan Cremers (ETUC policy advisor) will give an overview of the current situation of the SE and SPE debates. After that, Isabelle Barthes (EMF senior policy advisor) will speak about Transnational Company Agreements and key related issues, such as negotiating actors and negotiated topics, as well as EMF involvement and policies in transnational company-based negotiations. The final speaker is Christine Asmussen (Kreds Nordea Head of Secretariat), she will give a presentation on Nordea Bank’s cross-border trade union body and the links between the EWC and European Trade Union Federation. This meeting will take place on Monday, 16 May, from 1pm to 2 pm, and will be moderated by Aline Conchon (ETUI researcher).

More information and contact: Bruno Demaître, bdemaitre@etui.org

Update of country reports on national industrial relations

The EU member states have very different traditions and systems of industrial relations. For a better mutual understanding it is crucial to be aware of the key differences and similarities. The National Industrial Relations section on worker-participation.eu follows this aim. The updated country reports – prepared as in past years by Lionel Fulton from the Labour Research Department (London) – provide a unique overview on trade unions, collective bargaining, workplace representation, board-level representation and representation in EU-bodies. The update in German and French will follow soon.

Country reports: click here
Comparative overview reports: click here
Compare Countries tool: click here

Benchmarking Working Europe 2011

Is the Europe 2020 strategy leading us, as it promises, towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth? This is the main question addressed by this publication on the eve of this year’s Spring European Summit. The ETUC and ETUI offer a critical assessment of the strategy and its various components: will it be able to provide a framework for the creation of more and better-quality jobs? Are the policies and indicators set to promote an increase in social cohesion? How can workers better participate in the achievement of these various aims? Benchmarking Working Europe 2011 is structured in eight topical chapters illustrated by a significant number of graphs, and has a completely new layout. Chapter 8 is dealing with the issues of Social Dialogue and Worker Participation more

New issue of SDA's PARL Newsletter

The PARL newsletter can be downloaded for free on the website of the Social Development Agency (available in EN, FR, DE).

News from the SE Factsheets database

As of March 2011, a total of 751 registered SE companies are listed in the ECDB (SE factsheets): 58 new SEs have been added to the database since the previous newsletter (January 2011). Meanwhile, five SEs (two empty and three UFO companies) were deleted from national registers and two (normal) SEs were transformed. In addition to the already registered companies, the ECDB currently provides information on 17 planned SEs. more

New tool: Compare national SE transposition laws

The new feature enables you to compare key elements of the national laws transposing the SE Directive (2001/86/EC) in different countries. The EU member states (plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) had leeway on many points when transposing the SE Directive. By 8 October 2004, each country had to have adopted special implementing legislation which settled these points. In terms of negotiating an agreement on employee involvement, this means that in some matters the SE legislation of the country where the company is to have its registered office is applicable (e.g. on the regulations for financing the SNB). Other matters, however, are governed by the various national SE legislations in the countries concerned (e.g. nomination of national representatives to the SNB). more

Conference report - Now Boarding! Expressing employees’ strategic interests in Europe’s company boardrooms and the EU Internal Market


This was a two day conference organised by the European Workers Participation Conference Center (EWPCC) together with Stichting À Propos (NL) and the FNV (Dutch trade union federation). The purpose of the conference was to have a debate among worker representatives in European Companies (SEs) and other multinational companies about how to make use of employee participation rights in decision making at strategic company level and how to push companies in a more socially responsible and sustainable direction. The financial crisis and the associated failure of theories on market discipline and shareholder capitalism create new challenges for strengthening the influence of employees and other stakeholders over multinational companies in transition. more (conference documentation)

700th European Company (SE) registered - News from the SE Factsheets database

The year 2010 ended with a total of 700 registered SE companies. 42 SEs have been added to the database since the previous update (November, 2010). The ECDB (SE Factsheets) also provides information on 15 planned SEs. However, the number of UFO companies increased the most, due to activation of shelf companies in the Czech Republic and Germany. Only three new companies were added to the ‘normal’ category. The number of ‘normal’ companies is currently 169. more

Also our 'SE Facts and Figures' have been updated with the latest data.

‘In the union and on the board’: experiences of board-level employee representatives across Europe

Many companies today seem to have become little more than money-machines, seeking the highest returns from global markets. Employees, and indeed many managers too, are the slaves rather than the masters of such companies. Works councils and trade unions are reduced to mopping up the social consequences of their decisions. That is why this book, edited by Michael Gold, Norbert Kluge and Aline Conchon, depicts the everyday realities of serving as an employee representative in company boardrooms, and – as importantly – the personalities behind them. Eighteen representatives located in 12 European countries introduce the reader to their experiences, as well as their duties, responsibilities and perceptions against the background of their individual character, colleagues and workplaces. more

Worker participation: a ‘burden’ on the European Company (SE)? - A critical assessment of an EU consultation process

In March 2010, the EU Commission finally made available the so-called ‘Ernst and Young study’ on the operation and the impacts of the Statute for a European Company. Shortly afterwards the Commission launched an online consultation on the results of the study. In July 2010, the European Commission produced a summary report on the replies to the online consultation.This ETUI paper brings together a critical analysis of the consultation procedure, the Commission consultation summary and the ETUI’s reply to the consultation on the Ernst&Young study. more

News from the SE Factsheets database (November 2010)

After a relatively quiet summer period, there has been movement again in the ‘SE market’ in the past two months. In total, 36 SEs have been added to the database since the previous update (1 September 2010). At the time of writing, the ECDB (SE Factsheets) provides information on 658 established and 18 planned SEs. more

Also our "SE facts and figures" have been updated.

European Commission Consultation on “Corporate governance in financial institutions and remuneration policies”

How should our financial institutions be governed? This summer the European Commission issued a Green Book asking for opinions on how to deal with the massive failure of corporate governance in banks and insurance companies. Is this an opportunity to move away from a “shareholder dominated” towards a “stakeholder” company? more

Book review: Roland Erne’s Book on European Unions and Democracy

In his book on ‘European Unions’ published in 2008 Roland Erne assesses the capabilities of unions to act across borders and demonstrates how unions can contribute to the development of a more democratic European Union. In this work Erne draws on his experience as a social scientist accumulated at various European universities as on his background as a former union official in a number of European countries. His work is based on a broad spectrum of research methods, including 87 interviews with unionists, works councils and business consultants at local, national and European levels. At present Roland Erne is a lecturer in International and Comparative Employment Relations at University College Dublin. Download full review

Luxembourg: small country, but many SEs

Although Luxembourg is a small country, its economic influence within the EU is large. SEEurope network member Patrick Thill presented at the SEEurope network meeting in Romania the system of industrial relations in Luxembourg and the current dynamics of worker participation and corporate governance in this country. What are possible explanations why they are comparatively many SEs in Luxembourg? more

Conference (24 – 25.11.2010): Expressing employees’ strategic interests in Europe’s company boardrooms and the EU Internal Market

The purpose of this two day conference organised by the EWPCC together with Stichting À Propos and FNV (NL) is to have a debate among worker representatives in transnational companies and European Companies (SE) about how to make use of employee participation rights in decision making at strategic company level and how to push companies in a more socially responsible and sustainable direction. The financial crisis and the associated failure of theories about market discipline and shareholder capitalism create new challenges for strengthening the influence of employees and other stakeholders on transnational companies in transition. more

Factsheets on European Sectoral Social Dialogue

There are currently some 40 sectoral social dialogue committees, which have produced a wide range of joint texts and agreements. A characteristic of the sectoral social dialogue at European level is the diversity of tools used to formalise commitments made by the social partners. The list includes opinions and common positions, declarations, guidelines and codes of conduct, charters, and also framework agreements.

The factsheets provide information on the different sectors, participants and challenges, outcomes and the joint texts. The Sectoral Social Dialogue factsheets are available in English and French. Further factsheets will be added on an ongoing basis. more

Observatoire Social Européen (2010) European Sectoral Social Dialogue Factsheets. Project coordinated by Christophe Degryse.

News on European Companies (September 2010)

In total, 21 SEs have been added to the database in the two months since the previous update. At the time of writing, the ECDB (SE Factsheets) provides information on 622 established and 19 planned SEs. Two new and three previously registered companies were added to the ‘normal’ category. The three recently established ‘normal’ SEs were all registered in Germany and formed by conversion.
To summarise the current numbers (July 2010 figures in brackets), there are:
622 (601) established SEs, of which:


  • 157 (151) normal;
  • 79 (83) empty;
  • 316 (290) UFO;
  • 70 (77) shelf.

Find more information on SE companies in the ETUI's online European Company Database

European Trade Union Day of Action on 29 September 2010 - 100 000 workers to demonstrate in Brussels

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), in reaction to the austerity measures in force in a number of European countries, is sponsoring a major European mobilisation on 29 September, with support from all its member organisations. Around 100 000 people are expected to take to the streets in Brussels and protest actions will also be held in different European countries. more

European Commission publishes consultation synthesis on European Company (SE) study

The European Commission has published a synthesis of the comments on the consultation on the results of the so-called 'Ernst and Young study' on the operation and impacts of the European Company statute (SE). Altogether, the EU Commission received 69 responses from 18 different countries and a range of backgrounds. The synthesis document and the individual responses can be found here. more

New article (in Dutch): The European Company (SE) in the Netherlands – Opportunities and risks for worker participation

In the journal Zeggenschap, Elwin Wolters and Jan Cremers provide an overview of worker involvement in Dutch SEs. Their article 'The European Company (SE) in the Netherlands – Opportunities and risks for worker participation' analyses the consequences for worker involvement in the Netherlands in respect of specific Dutch SE characteristics, such as the high number of transfers of seats and the favourable tax regime. The article is available in Dutch. more

News from ETUI's European Company Database (SE Factsheets)

In total, 58 SEs have been added to the database in the past three months. At the time of writing, the ECDB (SE Factsheets) provides information on 601 established and 19 planned SEs. (At least) 151 companies or so are considered ‘normal SEs in the sense that they have both employees and business activities. more

Industrial Relations in Switzerland

Hans Baumann (European Institute of Construction Labour Research) has provided us with information on the Swiss system of industrial relations, thereby further completing our section on industrial relations backgrounds in Europe. The information is currently available in German and English. more

European Works Councils: a trade union guide to Directive 2009/38/EC (Report 114)

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. more

Update: National Industrial Relations (German)

The updated country reports are now also available in German. Moreover, information on Norway is now available more

Seminar report "European company law and corporate governance – importance for workers' board-level representatives in company boardrooms"

The European Worker Participation Competence Centre (EWPCC) of the ETUI has begun a series of seminars designed to examine, in particular, the qualification requirements of board members representing the workforce of European (SE) and other Transnational Companies. On 2 and 3.6.2010 twenty board members serving as "non-executive directors" in 13 companies came to Brussels to receive information about recent developments in European Company Law and European Corporate Governance by the EU Commission and the European Parliament, as well as by European academic experts. Earlier seminars concerned important practical topics like information policy of worker representatives or subjects suitable for taking own initiatives, such as the "Sustainable company" against the background of climate change. more

"The SE remains an ambitious European project" - A comment on the EU Commission's conference on the review of the SE legislation

The debate on the Ernst&Young study, initiated by the European Commission on 26 May 2010 with around 120 participants, has not confirmed the Study's findings related to the role of workers’ participation as a ‘negative driver’, particularly detrimental to the attractiveness of this European company form. The SE study is the point of departure for the review of the SE Regulation. 2001/2157/EC. The Study’s sweeping conclusions were revised and subjected to detailed examination in particular via the contributions of practitioners, from both the employers’ and the employees’ sides. A comment on the conference by Dr Norbert Kluge, coordinator of the European Worker participation Competence Centre (EWPCC) at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), Brussels. more

New section: Review 2010


The European Commission has started the review of the European Company Statute as foreseen in Art. 69 SE of the SE Regulation. In our new section we follow-up the discussions and proposals with regard to a possible revision of the SE legislation. more

In this context, the Commission has launched a public consultation on the results of the Study on the operation and the impacts of the Statute for a European Company (SE). The deadline for responses was 23 May 2010. The ETUI's reply can be found here.

New tool: Comparing national procedures for appointing SNB and EWC members

Available in English, French and German more

Two new ETUI publications

Andrew Watt and Andreas Botsch (eds.) After the crisis: towards a sustainable growth model

The devastating economic and financial crisis has revealed the limitations of financial capitalism and opened up a window of opportunity to propose and implement progressive reforms. Against this background the European Trade Union Institute has brought together critical and progressive academics and researchers from Europe and the United States to help launch a debate on setting an agenda for a reformed capitalism ‘after the crisis’. A total of 39 contributors provide concise, policy-oriented proposals, each one focusing on a specific area of relevance to a post-crisis world. more

Philippe Pochet, Maarten Keune and David Natali (eds.) After the euro and enlargement: social pacts in the EU

The participation of social partners in the management of socio-economic policies has been a stable feature of European politics in recent decades, having been defined as one of the key aspects of the European Social Model. Yet the role of concertation has changed during different cycles. This book aims to shed light on the most recent wave of social pacts in the last decade in western and eastern EU countries. In the context of recent socio-economic and political challenges (globalisation, changing economic context, labour market transformation, and the full implementation of EMU), 11 country chapters summarise the recent evolution of social pacts across the Eurozone and in New EU member states. more

Update: National Industrial Relations (French)

The updated country reports are now also available in French. The German version will follow soon. more

European Works Council - Facts and Figures

New slides available! Prepared prepared on the basis of information gathered within the EWC database of the ETUI. more


by Sergio González Begega and Holm-Detlev Köhle. Download here (pdf).


Update: National Industrial Relations - An overview

Lionel Fulton (Labour Research Department, UK) has updated for our website the overview article on national industrial relations in Europe. It provides key information on trade unions, collective bargaining, workplace representation, board-level representation and European structures of interest representation. The update will soon also be available in DE and FR language. more

500 active European Companies (SE) - ETUI database provides key information, including in relation to worker involvement

Since introduction of the European Company Statute or Societas Europaea (SE) in October 2004, the number of European Companies has increased steadily, year by year, at almost exponential rates of growth. In February 2010, the ETUI’s “SE database“ exceeded, for the first time, the total of 500 active SEs. This rather impressive total should, however, not blind observers to the fact that many SEs do not conform to the standard definition, for they are, in their overwhelming majority, SEs without any employees (‘empty SEs’) and/or without even a specific business purpose (‘shelf SEs’). Only roughly one quarter of the total number of SEs are today considered “normal SEs” in the sense that they have both employees and business activities. more

Update of the SE Facts and Figures

The slides provide a visual overview of the current state of SE foundations in Europe. more

Corporate Governance and Company Law News

This time the newsletter includes information on: European Private Company (SPE); consultation on the interconnection of business registers; Corporate Governance Forum; Study on‘comply-or-explain’; Directive relaxing reporting and documentation requirements. more

New publication: European Works Councils in complementary perspectives

During the last 15 years, research on European Works Councils has revealed significant information concerning the structure, dynamics and ability of EWCs to represent employees’ interests. A multitude of factors and conditions influencing the work and results of EWC activity have been identified. Until now, however, there has been little systematic theorising about EWCs and their specific character as ‘interest organisations within profit organisations’ and the specific relationship or ‘organisational fit’ between each entity. more

New section: European Worker Participation Competence Centre (EWPCC)

Providing support for workers' representatives in the boardrooms of European Companies (SE): A resolution of the European Trade Unions becomes reality

The European Trade Unions paved the way, at their congresses in Stockholm 1988, Prague 2003 and Seville 2007, for the fostering of board-level workers' participation in Europe. At the meeting of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Executive Committee on 15/16 October 2008 a resolution was unanimously adopted to:

  • establish a European Worker Participation Fund (EWPF) located within the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI); and
  • setup the European Worker Participation Competence Centre (EWPCC) as part of the ETUI, to be financially supported by the transfer of (part of) the remuneration of workers' representatives on the supervisory and administrative boards of European Companies (SEs). more

Bienvenue sur le site de worker-participation.eu - Worker Participation.eu in French language!

La section « Systèmes nationaux de relations professionnelles » est maintenant disponible en FRANCAIS. Veuillez-cliquez sur le drapeau au-dessus de la page.

Les relations professionnelles diffèrent largement d'un pays européen à l’autre, ce qui rend une éventuelle harmonisation extrêmement difficile. La mondialisation en cours accroît l'importance de la dimension européenne du dialogue social et de la collaboration transfrontalière des représentants des travailleurs et de leurs syndicats. Cette partie entend contribuer à une meilleure compréhension mutuelle en fournissant des informations de base sur différents aspects essentiels des systèmes nationaux de relations professionnelles.

La partie consacrée aux systèmes nationaux de relations professionnelles reprend certaines caractéristiques essentielles du fonctionnement des relations professionnelles dans chacun des PAYS et permet d’effectuer une comparaison EN EUROPE. La CARTE DES RELATIONS PROFESSIONNELLES EN EUROPE et l’OUTIL DE COMPARAISON vous donnent un premier aperçu des principales différences existant entre les pays.

Les informations disponibles sont relatives aux sujets suivants

  • Syndicats
  • Négociation collective
  • Représentation sur le lieu de travail
  • Représentation au niveau du conseil d’administration
  • Représentation au niveau européen
  • Santé et sécurité
  • Participation financière

Latest Figures from the European Company Database (ETUI SE Factsheets - July/August 2009)

At the time of writing, the ECDB (SE Factsheets) provides information on 383 established of which:

  • 91 normal (companies with employees and operation)
  • 68 shelf (companies for selling, ‘on the shelf’)
  • 183 UFO (companies presumably with operation and employees, however in general little or nothing to know about),
  • 41 empty (companies with operation but without employees)


FAQ on the 10th Directive on cross border mergers - revised and translated into German

The cross-border merger directive was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 26 October 2005, and the EU Member States had to transpose it by 15 December 2007. The main objective is to make mergers across European borders substantially easier. The list of Frequently Asked Questions provides key information on this important piece of European legislation. The FAQ have been revised and are now also available in GERMAN. more

Corporate Governance and Company Law News

This time, the Newsletter includes information on the following topics: European Private Company (SPE); Commission activities with regard to executive remuneration policies; regulation of alternative investors; European Corporate Governance Forum; Advisory Group on Corporate Governance and Company Law; Study on ‘comply-or-explain’; Directive on cross-border mergers; National backgrounds; Number of SEs more

New publication about worker directors in France (only in French)

Staff representatives, shop stewards, works councillors… If actors and observers of the social dialogue sphere are familiar with information and consultation rights for workers, participation of the latter in company’s administration is much less known, especially when it has to do with workers representation on companies’ board as effective member, i.e. with a deliberative voice. Who are those workers directors? What are their duties? How do they reconcile workers defence with company’s economic goals? What policy do trade unions, which support them, have adopted regarding this kind of “soft” codetermination? more

ETUI unveils « forgotten resource » with its “European Participation Index”

Researchers at the ETUI have developed a new tool called the European Participation Index (EPI) designed to examine the relationship between worker participation and social cohesion, economic performance and sustainable development in Europe. The Indicator shows how worker participation helps achieve the political objectives of the Lisbon Agenda. Published as part of this year’s ETUC/ETUI Benchmarking Working Europe report, the Index shows that countries with stronger participation rights have performed better along a range of key Lisbon Strategy indicators than countries with weaker participation rights. These key indicators include labour productivity, overall employment rates, expenditure on research and development and sustainable development. more

Frequent Questions on the revision of the EWC Directive

A selection of frequently asked questions on the revised European Works Councils Directive. Available in English and German. more

Corporate Governance and Company Law News (March 2009)

This time, the Newsletter includes information on the following topics: European Private Company (SPE), 14th Company Law directive; Communication from the Commission on the review of the SE Directive; Corporate Governance Forum; Number of SEs; Enforcement of the European company law. more

MAN SE - Information, consultation and board-level participation will become more widespread in Europe

This is the expected effect of the agreement on workers’ involvement in the future MAN SE, one of the leading manufacturers of commercial vehicles, engines and mechanical engineering equipment, concluded in February 2009. Around 49,000 MAN employees in Europe will henceforth have the opportunity to oversee management decisions through their representatives in MAN SE’s supervisory Board, whose composition is based on parity of workers and shareholders’ representatives, something that previously only German employees enjoyed. Initially, four German representatives and one each from Austria and Poland have been appointed to represent the European workforce in MAN SE’s highest-level monitoring body. more

European Company (SE) for market research company GfK

Employees from GFK, a Germany market research "knowledge based" type company, are to enjoy the benefits of increased employee board-level representation following the decision by the German based company to organise itself under the European company statute. The company currently employs 6,500 workers across 23 European countries and hitherto has not had an established works council of trade union representation. The agreement was reached with the assistance of the European Trade Union Institute. more

New publication: The European company statute - A new approach to corporate governance

The European Company Statute (ECS) is one of the most important pieces of legislation adopted so far by the European Union in the field of company law. Published by Peter Lang, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of the history, structure, legal basis and likely impact of the ECS, examining its evolution over some 30 years of development and its chances for integrating diverse models of corporate governance across the European Economic Area. more

ETUI suggests creation of a European Company monitoring service

The European commission could look into setting up a European Company (SE) monitoring service in order to better understand their creation and development. During a recent ETUI book launch ("the European Company Statute - a new approach to corporate governance" ) Senior ETUI Researcher Norbert Kluge suggested that a greater understanding of European companies and how legislation surrounding them is actually applied on the ground is now required. More...

Strabag SE case study - online now

Strabag was a pioneer in realising the new opportunities provided by European legislation. The SE legislation came into force on 4 October 2004 and Strabag SE was registered in Austria on 12 October 2004. In accordance with the law, an agreement on future workers’ involvement was presented to the court of registration. Although heavily criticised, at least by the German and Belgium building workers’ trade unions, SE registration was accepted. Strabag was the first major company operating cross-border in Europe – and also to a considerable extent in the new member states – which accepted the obligatory board-level representation of workers by maintaining the existing two-tier system. Today, 32 per cent of the company’s employees are in the new member states or candidate countries such as Croatia and Serbia, all of whom are covered by the agreement. Strabag SE opened up a new chapter of workers’ involvement for these workers in particular.

The conflict concerning the SE agreement was resolved by renegotiation in 2006, triggered by the major acquisition of a German building company, which increased the number of employees from around 33,000 to around 53,000. This was regarded as a structural change requiring renegotiation of the agreement. Now, three out of eight members of the supervisory board are workers’ representatives, for the time being all from Austria. It has been agreed to maintain the workers’ board-level presence also in the case of a structural change of company governance from a two-tier to a one-tier system. more

Transposition of Societas Europaea (SE) Legislation in Greece

The paper from Eleni Patra (CIRN Athens University of Economics and Business) deals with the transposition of the European Company (SE) legislation in Greece.


1. Legal Framework in Greece

2. Reasons that triggered the transposition of the SE legislation into Greece

3. Special provisions of the Greek Law 3412/2005 concerning the SE

4. Special provisions of the Presidential Decree 91/2006 about the SE

5. Application of the SE legislation

click here for more

MAN Diesel SE case study - final version now online

MAN affiliate MAN Diesel SE, founded in August 2006, made history as the first SE. As a result of this, German codetermination was spread to other EU member states: on the SE supervisory board the German workforce representatives now share the 50 per cent of the seats formerly reserved for them in accordance with German codetermination law with their colleagues from Denmark. No less important, the SE works council is now much more European than the previous European Works Council. This Europeanisation of interest representation to the highest achievable extent is well in line with the objectives of the European Metal Workers Federation (EMF). more

EU Corporate Governance and Company Law News

This time, the Newsletter includes information on the following topics: European Private Company (SPE), 14th Company Law directive; Communication from the Commission on the review of the SE Directive; Corporate Governance Forum; Number of SEs; Enforcement of the European company law.

Corporate Governance and Company Law News (November / December 2008)

SE Factsheets - Update on registered European Companies (SEs)

The ETUI has published its latest update of data outlining the number of established European Companies (SEs) across the EU. The data shows that over the last few months the total number of SEs has risen from 182 (June 2008) to 284 (October 2008). While the number of “normal SEs” i.e. SEs with a clear business purpose and containing employees has risen to 58 (+17) the number of “UFO SEs” i.e. SEs for which no clear business purpose is indicated and where the number of employees is unclear has more than doubled 118 (+67). more

Vocabulary for trade union work (English – German / German – Englisch / German – French / French – German)

The ideal language companion for anyone working in international education and trade unions. It allows an accurate and quick consultation of specialist terminology used in talks and discussions as well as within the framework of negotiations. Click here for download as pdf.

Country overviews on the SE transposition process

In transposing the European Company (SE) Directive, EU member states were granted quite a number of choices. These reports look at the ways in which the SE Directive has been transposed in the different member states and provide information on key aspects, such as

· Form of transposition

· Special negotiating body (SNB)

· Standard rules under the fallback procedure

· Misuse of procedures and structural change

· Position of trade unions and employers

The information was compiled by Lionel Fulton (Labour Research Department, London) for www.worker-participation.eu

New section: Financial Participation in the EU-27 member states

The distribution and significance of employee financial participation in Europe differs significantly from one country to another. Analysis shows examples and cases of good practice concerning financial participation in all European countries, even if the political and economic preconditions vary between strong legal foundations for the active promotion of financial participation (as in France and the UK) on the one hand, and rather poor recognition of such practices at enterprise level by the social partners, on the other. For this reason a new section has been added specifically dedicated to this topic. For each country information is available comprising an overview article, basic data, the legal background, national trade union positions and further links. Additionally overview articles deal with similarities, differences and trends. The information – which was compiled by WMP consult for www.worker-participation.eu – is rounded-up by a glossary and an overview table.