20 February 2024

Ceemet position on the revision of the European Works Council Directive

On 15 February 2024, Ceemet adopted its position paper regarding the proposal for a revision of European Works Council Directive put forward by the European Commission on 24 January 2024. Ceemet is very concerned about this proposal as it introduces administrative, regulatory and financial burden for the companies.

Ceemet is a strong advocate for social dialogue and sees the added value of European Works Councils that function well. The Directive 2009/38/EC which is presently in force ensures that EWCs provide a proper forum for dialogue between employers and representatives on transnational matters. Based on the experience of the MET sector, we believe that the application of the EWC Directive and its implementation in the large majority of the Member States has generally proven itself to work well in practice. Since there is a very low number of reported problems, we can speak of a well-functioning Directive.

Overall, we are of the opinion that no revision of the Directive is necessary since the current EU legislation ensures adequate right to information and to consultation of employees in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings and is relevant to strengthen European Works Councils. There are different means to further improve the functioning of EWCs such as the creation of guidelines for the set-up and operation of EWCs, sharing of the best practices,  funding of social partners to support the implementation of EWCs.

Commenting on the proposal to revise the Directive, among other things, tech and industry employers are worried by the suggestion to delete Article 14 and remove the exemptions from the scope of the Directive 2009/38/EC. The existing EWC agreements are individually and specifically adapted to the companies concerned. Several companies also use the EWC to exchange views with employee representatives on topics beyond those provided by law. Various models have been found in the negotiated agreements, which must be protected. Furthermore, we do not support vague and disproportionate definitions of “transnational” and “consultation”, weakened confidentiality provisions, as well as reinforced penalties that would to a great extent create barriers for the companies.

We advocate for a balanced and proportionate approach when it comes to the revision of EWC Directive, an approach that strives to improve the functioning of EWCs, support the competitiveness of the companies,  protect existing company agreements , and provide for legal certainty.

Ceemet therefore hopes  that the future discussions in the European Parliament  will stronger mirror also the companies’ views in the debate as the discussions that took place in the EMPL Committee during the presentation of the draft report on 14 February in the EMPL Committee  gave a rather negative picture of information and consultation processes in EWCs, ignoring decades of social dialogue.