Invasive alien species (IAS) cost the EU an estimated EUR 12 billion per year, prompting the European Commission to push for an EU-wide approach to tackle the issue. The phenomenon, which occurs when plants and animals are deliberately or unintentionally introduced by human action to a new environment where they establish, reproduce and proliferate, is causing serious problems for biodiversity. The dedicated legal instrument aims to tackle the problem through a new harmonised system and a shift from “cure” to “prevention”.
Globalisation, restructuring, and corporate strategies have consequences on employment and working conditions, especially in multinationals. Employees need to be properly informed and consulted at European level for these processes to be managed in a balanced and socially responsible way.
European Works Councils (EWCs) fulfil this role, representing all European employees of a company in meetings with central management. In any company employing over 1 000 employees in at least two EU Member States, transnational information and consultation of employees through the creation of an EWC is a right underpinned by a European Directive, which has been reinforced.
Meeting together on average twice per year, some 1 000 EWCs look after the interests and keep informed around 16 million European employees. The number of companies having established a EWC, however, does not represent even half of the eligible companies.
To accelerate the creation of EWCs and develop their role, the 1994 European legislation has been reviewed by Directive 2009/38/EC. EWCs are to be established and operate within the framework of this new Directive as from 6 June 2011.
The objective of the new legislation is to facilitate the creation of EWCs and ensure employees are effectively informed and consulted on the progress of business and any significant decision that could affect them. EWCs will also be better linked to national staff representation bodies and the workers' representatives better trained.
The amended Directive was presented at a European conference organised in the context of the 12th Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which took place on 16 and 17 May 2011 in Athens, Greece. This event brought together all of Europe’s main national trade union confederations that are members of ETUC, as well as members of EWCs and other employee representatives in multinationals.