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EU Framework for Information, Consultation and Participation rights

The existing Community rights of employees to be informed and consulted and to be represented on the company’s supervisory or administrative board (participation) is still fragmented. In total, more than 35 EU Directives provide information and consultation rights in some kind, either in specific cases or at large. The existing directives are a clear expression of the willingness at European level to make employees citizens at their workplace. This is also mirrored in the EU Charter of fundamental rights (referred to in the Lisbon Treaty) which gives information and consultation rights the status of a basic right of European citizens.

Source: A. Hoffmann and R.Jagodzinski, 2019 © ETUI.

The idea of workers' information, consultation and participation has been thus slowly evolving into a more encompassing concept of democracy at work. The ETUC gave expression of this evolution "part of a broader approach for a more Social Europe which is urgently needed." (ETUC 2019 website and 2019 brochure on more democracy at work).

The ETUI provided a broad overview and analysis of the concept of democracy at work in its latest 2019 edition of Benchmarking Working Europe (Chapter 4 "Democracy at work")

Democracy at work and its impact on other spheres of society at large, economy and company performance is a particularly pertinent aspect of discussions about democracy at large, new social contract and the necessity to rethink capitalism. Chapter 4 of the Benchmarking Working Europe report brings together interesting data from various areas to show that workplace democracy is linked with increased participation in democratic life, more equal societies, higher wages and better work-life balance, to name only a few.

There, we present the forms of democracy at work:

Source: Benchmarking Working Europe 2019 (infographic by R.Jagodzinski, 2019 © ETUI).

...and the impact along with benefits which  democracy at work and information, consultation and participation exert:

Source: Benchmarking Working Europe 2019 (infographic by R.Jagodzinski, 2019 © ETUI).

For many of the above reasons, and supplementary ones, numerous leading thinkers, researchers and politicians of the 20th and 21st century have spoken in favour of democracy at work:

Source: Benchmarking Working Europe 2019 (infographic by R.Jagodzinski, 2019 © ETUI).

Further resources:

Information and Consultation

The rights pertaining to information and consultation of the workforce under Community law are currently some of the most fragmented in the EU legislative body. In total, more than 15 directives deal with information and consultation in some kind of a general or specific sense. Currently four major European directives form part of the social acquis in this regard: the directive on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work (89/391/EC), the directive on European works councils (2009/38/EC); the directive on employee involvement in the European Company (2001/86/EC), and the European framework directive on information and consultation (2002/14/EC). Besides this general frame, a range of directives secure the right of information and consultation of workers in specific situations, such as in case of collective redundancies (98/59/EC) , transfer of undertaking (2001/23/EC).

Board-level employee representation (Participation)

The right of employees or their representatives to elect or appoint some members of a company's supervisory or administrative organ, or the right to recommend and/or oppose the appointment of some or all of the members of these boards represents the third element of the `European trias of worker involvement rights`: information, consultation and (board-level) participation.


The type of labour needed by European companies – skilled, mobile, committed, responsible, and capable of using technical innovations and of identifying with the obj ective of increasing competitiveness and quality – cannot be expected simply to obey the employers' instructions. Workers must be closely and permanently involved in decision-making at all levels of the company .


 Final report of the `High-level expert group on workers’ involvement` (Davignon group), 1997

Conference poster presenting the forms, the impact and a conceptual model for analysis of democracy at work.

Authors: R. Jagodzinski and Sara Lafuente-Hernandez, 2019 © ETUI.

Presented at: II Labour 2030 Congress on the Future of Work, Porto, 19-20 September, 2020.