European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Worker Participation

Since the beginning of the European integration process there has been a commitment to provide employees in Europe with the right to be involved in company decision-making. Worker participation thus serves two intertwined purposes: implementing social rights so as to strengthen democracy in the working environment; and supporting companies, states and the European Union in their efforts to combine economic competitiveness with social progress.

Workers’ right to information and consultation within the undertaking has been recognised, in Article 27 of the Charter of fundamental rights, now annexed to the Lisbon Treaty, as having the same value as other treaty provisions, alongside civil and political rights. As from the 1970s, the social acquis communautaire in respect of workers’ right to involvement has undergone change and development. Several directives contain provisions providing the workforce with information and consultation rights in specific circumstances such as transfers of undertakings, insolvency and collective redundancies. Numerous further directives have been adopted dealing with workers’ involvement rights in the field of health and safety. The Framework Directive on information and consultation – adopted in 2004 – complements the existing set of arrangements by laying down general minimum standards for national companies

With more and more companies operating Europe-wide (or even globally), the transnational level of employee interest representation is becoming increasingly important. In accordance with this development, the European Union has more recently embarked upon the definition of a general framework of employee involvement in transnational undertakings, included in directives regulating the establishment of European Works Councils, the European Company (SE) and the European Cooperative Society (SCE).

In its various activities in the field of worker participation, the ETUI closely follows and analyses this dynamic field of European integration. For this purpose, the ETUI has also set up several topical websites and databases complementing its research activities. Moreover, the ETUI offers training to members of European and SE works councils.

Since 2009 the ETUI hosts the European Worker Participation Competence Centre. Based on an ETUC resolution, the EWPCC coordinates and organizes activities concerning transnational workers’ representation with a specific focus on board members representing employees of European Companies (SE).

The ETUI also provides tailor-made training courses and expertise for European Works Councils, Special Negotiation Bodies (SNB), and SE Representative Bodies (SE RB), in close cooperation with the relevant Trade Union organisations on the national and European level (European Trade Union Federations).


    Maria Jepsen on EU workers' rights and co-determination


Romuald Jagodzinski Senior Researcher