This morning, an oral hearing took place at the Court of Justice of the European Union following a preliminary reference by a German court (Case C-566/15, Erzberger v. Tui). The case concerned a particular aspect of the German rules on employee participation in the supervisory bodies of companies (so-called “Mitbestimmung”). In the national court proceedings, it had been argued by the shareholder of a company that the German rules would be incompatible with EU law as they would restrict these participatory rights of employees only to companies and their employees in Germany.
The Commission stated this morning in Court: "Employee participation is an important public policy objective and any possible restriction on the free movement of workers resulting from such rules can be justified by the need to safeguard systems of employee participation and their social objective. As a result, the Commission considers that the German rules as they stand can be considered compatible with EU law."
The Commission therefore defended the right of Member States to guarantee employee participation rights as foreseen in the German legislation in question; the model of “Mitbestimmung” and its social objectives are thus in line with EU law.
Under President Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission has made the social dimension of the European project a priority of its work. The Commission is currently working on a pillar of social rights in order to bring about common standards of workers' rights, a process meant to start within the euro area and countries voluntarily joining this process.