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No 2 (February 96/Février 96/Februar 96)
The adoption by the Commission in November 1995 of a Communication concerning the information and consultation of employees (1) has given fresh hope for the adoption of the Commission's long-standing proposal for a European Company Statute (ECS) (2) . The absence of this statute is estimated to cost business 30 Billion ECU a year (3) .
The ECS is an instrument of central importance for the completion of the , in that it provides for the formation of a type of company (a "European Company" or "SE") which can operate on a Europe-wide basis and be governed by a single Community law directly applicable in all Member States. In areas where the functioning of the SE does not require specific Community rules, the applicable laws will be those governing public limited companies in the Member State in which it has its registered office. The European Company Statute will therefore offer companies established in more than one Member State a means of restructuring their business in a way which best reflects the commercial realities of the , and of reducing their operating costs by avoiding the need for a complex network of subsidiaries governed by different national company laws. It has also been identified as the most appropriate legal instrument for attracting private capital for the establishment of large trans-European networks.
How to break the deadlock
The Commission's purpose in issuing its Communication on information and consultation of employees was therefore to take stock of the present situation and initiate a fresh debate on how best to break the deadlock in the Council on this issue. The Communication highlights the fact that the European Works Council Directive (adopted by the Council in September 1994 ) has introduced a new and important element into the equation. It has provided for the establishment of European Works Councils or other procedures for informing and consulting employees of undertakings which operate on a Community scale, and has generally been greeted as a considerable success (even though the United Kingdom is not subject to its requirements, since it was adopted under the Agreement on Social Policy).
The Commission therefore examines the various options for Community action in this area, including the possibility of adopting a global approach to the issue of worker involvement, rather than having separate rules applicable to different types of entity. If such a global approach were adopted, then, given the existence of the European Works Council Directive, immediate steps could be taken to break the deadlock on proposals such as the European Company Statute (which would be subject to that Directive), by withdrawing the individual provisions on worker involvement attached to those proposals.
The Commission points out that this could be done in two ways: either by providing that (a) no European Company could be set up in a Member State which has not transposed the European Works Council Directive, or (b) that the European Works Council Directive could apply in the same way as it does to existing companies of European dimension, without additional conditions being applied.
The Commission considered that, given the complexity and sensitivity of the issues involved, it was appropriate to send the Communication to the Council, Parliament and Economic and Social Committee, as well as to the social partners, before taking any formal initiatives in this area, in order to allow for the fullest possible debate.
L'adoption par la Commission en novembre 1995 de la communication sur l'information et la consultation des travailleurs ouvre de nouvelles perspectives pour l'adoption de la proposition concernant le statut de la société européenne bloquée devant le Conseil depuis de nombreuses années. L'idée avancée dans cette communication est de faire adopter une directive générale sur l'information et la consultation des travailleurs au niveau européen. De cette manière, la proposition de règlement instituant le statut de société européenne pourrait être débarrassée de son volet social qui est à l'origine du blocage, et être adoptée.
Die Mitteilung der Kommission vom November 1995 zur Information und Konsultation der Arbeitnehmer eröffnet neue Perspektiven für die Annahme des Statuts der Europäischen Aktiengesellschaft (SE), das seit Jahren schon im Rat blockiert ist. In dieser Mitteilung wird der Erlaß einer allgemeinen Richtlinie über die Information und Konsultation der Arbeitnehmer auf europäischer Ebene vorgeschlagen. Auf diese Weise könnte die Regelung über die Arbeitnehmerrechte, die der Grund für die Aussetzung der Verhandlungen war, vom SE-Statut abgekoppelt werden, so daß die Verordnung über das SE-Statut endlich erlassen werden könnte.
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(1) Communication concerning the information and consultation of employees COM(95)547 of 14/11/1995.
(2) Regulation on European Company Statute COM(91)174 of 16 May 1991.
(3) Ciampi Report on competitiveness (June 1995).