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Overview

The European directives are a clear expression of the willingness to make employees citizens in their places of work. The same intention is reflected 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. However, such fragmentation creates confusion and legal insecurity for both workers and their representatives as well as for management, compounded by the fact that most directives are poorly implemented.

In 2005 the European Commission launched a program on better regulation focusing on the quality and effectiveness of EU legislation, in which the Commission foresaw to codify a series of directives amongst them the directives on information and consultation, collective redundancies, on transfer of undertaking. In its resolution of 10 May 2007, the European Parliament urged the Commission ‘to take initiatives with a view to reviewing and updating Community legislation concerning information and consultation of workers, in order to ensure a coherent and efficient framework of law, guarantee legal certainty and improve the realisation of the social dialogue between the national and the European levels’. Consequently, the European Commission, on the basis of an experts’ report, produced under the supervision of Professor Ales, on the implementation of Directive 2002/14/EC (Ales 2007), intended to undertake in 2008 a harmonisation/ codification exercise of the Information and Consultation directives in the context of its simplification Rolling programme 2006-2009 (point 75 ‘to simplify {by recasting} the Directives on information and consultation of workers (conditional) in light of 2007 report on Directive 2002/14/EC and further discussions with Member States’). In 2008 the European Commission published a communication COM (2008)146 of 2008 on the review of the application of Directive 2002/14/EC of 2008 followed by a 2009 European Parliament report on the implementation of the Directive 2002/14/EC.

Both the European Commission and the European Parliament assess the important step forward in the consolidation of the right of information and consultation in the approximation of national systems across the EU. Directive 2002/14/EC has a significant impact in member states which did not have a general, permanent statutory system of information and consultation. Howerver a much debated issue is still not resolved: how to organise the system of workers’ representation (single or double channel or mixed solutions)?

The European Commission stresses that it is too early to for a comprehensive evidence based research and that it does not currently envisage amendments to the directive but wants to promote full and effective transposition and enforcement. It will clarify number of questions regarding the interpretation of the directive or doubts as regards the compliance of implementation measures and it will launch awareness raising activities on respective rights and duty of management and labour in the area of information and consultation. No revision or recast exercise of Directive 2002/14/EC is foreseen.

On the contrary the resolution of the European Parliament recalls that there are 23 million undertakings with fewer than 250 employees (accounting for 99% of undertakings and employing over 100 million people) in the European Union. It stresses that the EU institutions have a duty to guarantee and enhance the right of employees to be informed and consulted and urges those Member States which have not yet correctly transposed Directive 2002/14/EC to do so as soon as possible.

Furthermore, the European Parliament spotted some of the main issues at stake: definition of information (quality of information), right of information and consultation as an automatic right, protection of employees’ representatives, deficit in public administration and financial sector, direct consultation as last resort and not interfering with trade union rights, omission of target group of workers (young workers, women working part-time or workers employed for short periods on fixed-term contracts), lack of regulation on access to confidential information, effective, proportional and dissuasive sanctions.

It calls for consideration to extend the workforce thresholds triggering the application of Directive 2002/14/EC so that only micro-undertakings are excluded from its scope. The European Parliament also invites the Commission to submit an evaluation report on the results achieved through the application of Directive 2002/14/EC as regards strengthening the social dialogue; to ensure that the rules laid down in national and Community law concerning the information and consultation of workers are complied with when decisions on mergers and takeovers are taken;

Furthermore European Parliament advocates improvements to the right of employees to be informed and consulted and to place this issue on agendas for the European Social Dialogue. This later point is rather peculiar given the totally divergent replies to the 2007 Commission consultation of the ETUC on one side and the European Employers associations on the other side.

Finally it considers the need to coordinate Directives 94/45/EC, 98/59/EC, 2001/23/EC, 2001/86/EC, 2002/14/EC and 2003/72/EC and Regulation (EC) No 2157/2001 with a view to determining what changes may be required in order to eliminate duplications and contradictions in these texts.

Alle Information and Consultation