INFORMING AND CONSULTING EMPLOYEES
Commission Opinion on the European Parliament's amendments to the Council's common position regarding the draft Directive establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community.
|Legal base:||Article 137(2) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Document originated:||27 November 2001
|Forwarded to the Council:
||28 November 2001|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||3 January 2002|
|Department:||Trade and Industry
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 19 December 2001|
|Previous Committee Report:
||None; but see (22879) : HC 152-vii (2001-02), paragraph 13 (21 November 2001)
|To be discussed in Council:
|Committee's assessment:||Legally and politically important
4.1 The draft Directive requires undertakings in the
Community with 50 or more employees to put in place arrangements
for informing and consulting their employees on a range of matters.
The detailed procedures are to be determined by the Member States,
subject to certain minimum standards.
4.2 Negotiations on the draft Directive have been protracted:
the previous Committee first considered the proposal almost three
years ago. The UK has never been happy with its general tenor,
but agreed last June to join the consensus for a Council Common
Position. However, at its second reading, the European Parliament
(EP) proposed a number of amendments to the Common Position text.
The document and the Minister's letter
4.3 The document refers to the Commission's original
opinion on the EP's amendments. In his letter, the Minister for
Employment Relations and the Regions (Mr Alan Johnson) explains
that it has now been overtaken by events. Despite the Commission's
view that it could accept a few of the amendments either in whole
or in part, the Council rejected them all on 12 December. The
conciliation process was therefore formally invoked.
4.4 The Minister then updates us on events, saying:
"During the process of preparing for conciliation, the
Commission came forward with a package of four compromise amendments,
which the Parliamentary side indicated would be acceptable to
it. At this point, the Parliamentary side also requested the inclusion
of a declaration on employee rights. The Council and Parliament
formally agreed to these amendments to the Common Position in
a Conciliation Committee on 17 December.
"The amendments and Declaration are set out in Annex A. In
the Government's view Amendments 1-3 are cosmetic and impose no
additional obligations compared with those already in the Common
Position. The same is true of the Declaration, in any case non-binding,
which simply refers to the existing jurisprudence of the European
Court of Justice, which already binds all Member States. Amendment
4 reduces the transitional period for firms with 50 to 99 employees
from 4 years to 3 years (in addition to the transposition period
of 3 years). The Government considers that a total period of 6
years from the date of adoption of the directive is sufficient
time to allow for the UK undertakings concerned to adapt to the
"The text will now pass to jurist-linguists for textual and
linguistic tidying up. Following that, the Council and the European
Parliament will separately consider the text at third reading.
Subject to approval by both institutions, we expect the directive
to be adopted in January."
4.5 It is encouraging that the protracted negotiations
over this proposal are drawing to a close. We are also pleased
to learn that the Government considers that the total period of
six years which firms with 50 to 99 employees will have to adapt
to the new requirements will be sufficient.
4.6 We thank the Minister for the exemplary way in
which he has kept us informed of developments on this measure
and ask him to let us know when the Directive is finally adopted.
We clear the document which, as the Minister has explained, has
been overtaken by events.