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European Commission - Press release

Labour law: Commission requests UK to take fully on board new rules for European Works Councils

Brussels, 27 February 2012 - The European Commission has requested the United Kingdom to complete the full transposition of new EU law on European Works Councils (the recast of EU Directive on European Works Councils) into its national law. The request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures. If the United Kingdom does not bring its legislation into line with EU law in its whole territory within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the Member state to the EU's Court of Justice.

Member States had to bring the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the new European Works Councils Directive into force by 5 June 2011 and notify the Commission accordingly. In the case of the United Kingdom, the national implementing measures adopted in 2010 do not cover Gibraltar. The UK authorities had indicated this would be completed in November 2011 but no information has yet been received by the Commission on the completion of this process. The request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures.


In July 2011, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to the 17 Member States not having complied with these obligations. Of these infringement cases, twelve cases have been closed as these Member States have transposed the EU directive into national law, one case is waiting for some last elements for closure and three other cases are still open after a reasoned opinion has been sent in November 2011 to Greece, Italy and Luxembourg.

The right to establish European Works Councils was introduced by Directive 94/45/EC in 1994 for undertakings and groups of undertakings employing at least 1000 employees in the Member States with at least 150 employees in each of two Member States. Today, some 1000 European Works Councils represent 18 million employees.

Through these bodies, which represent the European employees of a company, workers are informed and consulted at transnational level by management on the progress of the business and on any significant decision that could affect them. The recast directive adapts this legislation to the new economic and social context, to face the significant increase in multinational businesses and large scale restructuring operations over recent years.

In these times of economic crisis, with a large impact on employment, effective social dialogue is essential. The European Works Councils need to be fully equipped to play their role of looking ahead, anticipating corporate restructuring and involving employees in the design of socially responsible solutions in European-scale companies.

Further information

Recast Directive 2009/38/EC on European Works Councils:

For more information on EU infringement procedures:

and MEMO/12/134

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Contacts :

Cristina Arigho (+32 2 298 53 99)

Nadège Defrère (+32 2 299 04 03)

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