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Latest developments

Policy Brief: 'Implementation of enforcement provisions of the European Works Councils Recast Directive: are sanctions really ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive’?

Policy Brief by Romuald Jagodziński (ETUI)

Date of publication: 2014

This policy brief by the ETUI shows the importance of proper implementation of sanctions for the overall efficiency and implementation of the goals of the EWC Recast Directive. By comparing national sanctions with the criteria of effectiveness, proportionality and dissuasiveness set by the EWC Recast Directive it highlights the excessive discrepancies between national regimes and the EU legislation. On this basis it formulates some concrete policy recommendations for the Commission’s future implementation report on this Directive.

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ETUI and ETUC Benchmarking Working Europe 2014

The report – available in PDF format and print – reviews the crisis and EU austerity policies in the past five years from the point of view of Europe's social agenda. It comprises a critical, fact-based diagnosis of the first five years of the EU’s crisis management policies in view of the Europe 2020 agenda. It suggests that Europe finds itself “half-way through a lost decade” and provides the scientific underpinning of the ETUC’s political roadmap for a ‘new path for Europe’. Chapter 7 takes stock of workers’ rights to information, consultation and board-level employee representation at both the national and transnational levels. Chapter 4 conducts a stocktaking exercise in relation to the last five years of significant labour law reforms, including information and consultation rights.

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EWC and SE Works Council agreements – Different, but similar

A preliminary attempt to measure and compare the quality of EWC and SE-WC agreements was undertaken by ETUI within the framework of contributing to the ETUI annual flagship report ‘Benchmarking Working Europe 2014’. Aware of the difficulty of quantifying the quality of EWC and SEWC agreements the ETUI launched an attempt to score agreements for the presence of certain provisions and to compare the totals of the two categories. Essentially, despite some differences both categories of agreements render similar evolutionary patterns in time and corresponding quality.

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Sanctions for breaches of EWC rights – sharp variation across the EU

The forthcoming ETUI study on EWCs’ access to justice provides an insightful overview of the level of sanctions across the EU. Suffice to say that sanctions for breaching EWC rights are sometimes included in the transposition acts implementing the directive, but on many occasions also scattered across external acts, which does not help legal transparency and ease of reference (especially for employee representatives from abroad). Moreover, the levels of sanctions differ significantly across the EU, leading to excessive variation in the protection of those rights.

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EU Call for proposals: Information, consultation and participation of representatives of undertakings

The European Commission has now published its annual call for proposals on “information, consultation and participation of representatives of undertakings” (Budget Heading Projects can be funded which, for example, promote actions to set up transnational information, consultation and participation bodies or aim at creating favourable conditions for the setting up of national information, consultation and participation bodies.

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Your feedback on ETUI’s Online EWC Database – Thank you!

The EWC team at ETUI would like to thank its visitors for providing valuable feedback concerning the expert website www.ewcdb.eu. Remarks, suggestions and ideas following users’ responses to the electronic feedback on the website helped us to prepare a call for tender to rebuild the database. We will keep you informed on further developments.

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Negotiating flexibility and security in multinationals in Europe: the case for extending European Framework Agreements

ETUI policy brief 1/2014 presents lessons from comparative research on collective bargaining on flexibility and security. It takes as its starting point field work undertaken in two EU- and two US-based manufacturing subsidiaries in Germany, Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom. The research shows that the outcomes of local bargaining of trade unions with regard to flexibility and security in these companies are influenced ‘by the interplay of market competition, the nature of the product and the type of international integration characterizing the multinational in question’. It also demonstrates the importance of European Framework Agreements on security (for example, on training, requalification and career progression) as a tool to enhance unions’ capacity to negotiate employment security in difficult economic times.

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Towards a Legal Framework for Transnational Company Agreements (TCA)

A new study carried out by Silvana Sciarra, Maximilian Fuchs and André Sobczak for the ETUC was presented at an ETUC seminar in Frankfurt at the end of January 2014. In a nutshell, the authors of the report suggest that TCAs be included in the European social dialogue legal framework of the chapter on social policy in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. On this basis, ETUC adopted a resolution at its Executive committee meeting of 11–12 March 2014 on the issue, which should soon be available on the ETUC website.

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More than 1,000 active EWCs and counting – News from the EWC Database

The ETUI’s database of EWCs currently records 1,039 active EWCs in 962 multinational companies. The highest number of EWCs has been established based on the German (351), French (260), British (186) and Belgian (179) law. Since the entry into force of the recast EWC Directive 2009/38/EC, the pace of establishment of new EWCs seems to be increasing steadily: at least 58 negotiations are known to be currently underway, and the sectoral European trade union federations report that more initiatives to open negotiations are in the pipeline.

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Upgrade of EWC Database in 2014 – please provide feedback

The ETUI information service on EWCs www.ewcdb.eu has been online since 2007. After six years of operation, we are preparing for an upgrade in 2014. Therefore we are currently collecting input and feedback about the website in order to improve it and adjust it to the users’ current needs. We seek users’ remarks, proposals, and suggestions concerning the website’s contents, interface, and possible new functionalities, etc.

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Forthcoming ETUI study on EWCs access to justice

The ETUI is preparing an analysis of the enforcement of EWCs’ rights within all national legal frameworks. The study aims to map national regulations on EWCs' access to courts and the enforcement of EWC rights to information and consultation; it also seeks to clarify whether EWCs have the necessary legal rights and capacities to seek conflict resolution in courts of law in all member states.

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EWCs negotiating below the radar?

Recently published exploratory research conducted in the metalworking sector has revealed that over the past five years, a striking new negotiating phenomenon has emerged: In addition to negotiating formal framework agreements, EWCs and central management have increasingly developed informal arrangements in order to regulate a wide range of issues, such as transnational restructuring, remuneration, health and safety policies, and shaping industrial relations arrangements within the company. These developments can pose real challenges to collective bargaining and workers’ participation at the local level.

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EWCs’ continued involvement in transnational company-level agreements

As in previous years, more and more EWCs have been actively negotiating arrangements and agreements with company management. The Workers Participation Bulletin continues to monitor and report on these developments. 2013 has seen the conclusion of a few particularly innovative agreements designed to capture the complexities of articulating processes of information, consultation and negotiation across different levels—from the local to the European and global levels. We report here on recent agreements signed at Air France/KLM, Enel, Lafarge, Groupama and Deutsche Bahn.

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European Parliament asks for legal framework on transnational company agreements

On 12 September, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on cross-border collective bargaining and transnational social dialogue (2012/2292(INI)). In this resolution the Parliament proposes to the Commission that it give consideration to the need for an optional European legal framework for European transnational company agreements (TCA).

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Transposition of the EWC recast directive still not complete

As indicated in the last News-Bulletin, 3 EU Member States (Italy, Greece, Luxembourg) did not meet the deadline for transposition (5 June 2011) of the EWC recast directive 2009/38/EC. Since then, in Italy the original Joint Opinion of Social Partners (signed 12 April 2011) was accepted by the Italian government and turned into law and entered into force on 11 August 2012 (Legislative Decree No. 113 of 2012). In Greece the original proposal for a bill was successfully modified after long and intensive efforts on the part of the Greek trade unions and adopted as the Presidential Decree. In Luxembourg the original bill was submitted to Parliament for adoption and the State Council (Conseil d’Etat) has given its opinion.

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Impulses on EWC founding by the recast directive? – Recent statistics from the EWC Database

More than a year after the deadline for transposition of the recast directive 2009/38/EC statistics on EWCs from the ETUI database of EWCs show a steady, slow pace of establishment of EWCs. In 2011 only 17 new EWCs were reportedly created, compared to 23 cases in 2010 and 34 in 2009. In 2012 only 6 EWCs are reported to have been established.

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European Commission launches consultation on future of Transnational Company Agreements

The European Commission published a staff working document (Transnational company agreements: realising the potential of social dialogue) which is based on the results of an expert group, in which ETUC and European Trade Union Federations have also participated. The Commission has now launched a consultation and has invited ‘parties to share their views on the challenges and opportunities faced by TCAs and on the specific options put forward’.

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Almost finished: Implementation of the EWC Recast Directive

The transposition of the EWC Recast Directive into national legislation is coming to an end. Since the previous edition of the News Bulletin, Luxembourg has also implemented the provisions of the new recast directive.

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Fallback provisions prove to be the blueprint for negotiations

The ETUI’s Benchmarking Working Europe 2013 shares preliminary findings based on the recently completed content analysis of EWC agreements. The ETUI finds that despite a considerable variety of company profiles and the influence of highly diverse national systems and traditions of industrial relations the basic architecture of rights and the practical arrangements found in EWCs have become increasingly similar.

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Implementation of enforcement provisions of the European Works Councils Recast Directive: are sanctions really ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive’?

This policy brief by Romuald Jagodziński (ETUI) shows the importance of proper implementation of sanctions for the overall efficiency and implementation of the goals of the EWC Recast Directive. It looks at variation of sanctions across the EU and explains the criteria of effectiveness, proportionality, and dissuasiveness set by the EWC Recast Directive. It also points out the necessity to respect them when assessing the implementation of the directive - a process to be executed by the European Commission in course of 2015.

Policy Brief: 'Transnational flexibility and ‘shareholder capitalism’: a case for extending EWC competences to cover flexibility' by Valeria Pulignano

Flexibility within multinational companies (MNCs) has become increasingly transnational in character. Strategies of inter-firm benchmarking, outsourcing and cross-national or internal ‘coercive comparison’ are increasingly used by MNCs to enhance local performance by placing plants in competition with each other, forcing subsidiaries to gradually raise their level of flexibility, and eroding employees’ working conditions.

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Policy Brief: 'Working in multinationals and domestic firms compared - myths and realities' by Maarten van Klaveren and Kea Tijdens (AIAS, Amsterdam), Denis Gregory (TURU, Oxford)

The three authors of this policy brief investigated whether multinational enterprises (MNEs) offer better terms and conditions for employment than domestic (non-MNE) firms. Using data from the WageIndicator web survey (www.wageindicator.org), the researchers compared wages, working conditions and job quality, working hours, training possibilities, and industrial relations at the workplace in MNEs and domestic companies.

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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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Two new studies on EWCs from the Eurofund: Linking I&C levels and EWC developments before, during and after the crisis

The Eurofound recently published two topical and important pieces of research that contribute to a better understanding of new (and old) challenges that EWCs face:

'Linking information and consultation procedures at local and European level' by Filip Dorssemont and Peter Kerckhofs


'European Works Council developments before, during and after the crisis' by Peter Kerckhofs
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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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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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'The right and duty of European Works Councils to report back to the workforce: broad uptake, little specificity', by Stan De Spiegelaere & Romuald Jagodzinski (ETUI)

This policy brief examines if and how the reformulated obligation in the Recast European Works Council Directive to report back found its way into EWC agreements by looking at survey data, results of large-scale agreement analysis and by providing examples of clauses in which this obligation is reflected.

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EWC Training: 'How to organise your communication networks', by Bruno Demaître (ETUI), Romuald Jagodzinski (ETUI), Sjef Stoop (FNV Formaat)


This second in a series of manuals for European Workers' Representatives explains in an easy-to-read format how European Works Council (EWC) members can organise and manage their communications network. It gives tips and tricks for better information flows and provides examples of best practices in several EWCs. The manual is available in 8 different languages.

 Hard copies can be ordered free of charge: Bruno Demaître

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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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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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

The reNEWed European Works Councils database portal is online

In February 2016, to mark the 10th anniversary of the ETUI online portal on European Works Councils www.ewcdb.eu (available since 2006) received a completely new interface and design. The remake of the website was the ETUI’s response to users’ growing needs and a reflection of a change in access policy: we now offer full free access to all registered and many new features.

Important: old logins and passwords (from before 22/02/2016) will NOT work --> please REGISTER ANEW.

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EWC Recast Directive: trade union demands and research evidence for making changes to legislative frameworks

At the ETUC annual conference on EWCs that took place on 17-18 October 2017 under the title 'EWC Directive Revision: Mission Impossible?' the ETUI presented two infographics summarising

1) trade union demands for changes to the legislative frameworks;

2) research evidence, facts, figures and findings concerning shortcomings and loopholes in the existing legal frameworks.

Infographic: the timeline of the revision/recast process of the EWC Directive

An overview infographic presenting milestones on the road to adopitn the EWC Recast Directive 2009/38/EC.

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