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Worker participation: a ‘burden’ on the European Company (SE)? - A critical assessment of an EU consultation process

In March 2010, the EU Commission finally made available the so-called ‘Ernst and Young study’ on the operation and the impacts of the Statute for a European Company. Shortly afterwards the Commission launched an online consultation on the results of the study. In July 2010, the European Commission produced a summary report on the replies to the online consultation.This ETUI paper brings together a critical analysis of the consultation procedure, the Commission consultation summary and the ETUI’s reply to the consultation on the Ernst&Young study.

In the Inventory (included as part 1 of this paper) the question of the value of a web-based public consultation is raised. How should the individual contributions be weighted? What is the relevance of the contribution of, let’s say, BUSINESSEUROPE compared to the contribution of an individual citizen from behind his desk? As demonstrated in the Inventory, the Commission is very selective in highlighting the contributions it received, although the suggestion is that every number counts. Surprisingly, Commission Services neither treats critical remarks seriously nor confirms or refutes them. Serious criticism that could upset the conclusions is ignored.

The ETUI's reply to the consultation – compiled with support from the members of the SEEurope network – is included as part 2 of the paper. There have been strong critics of the Ernst&Young study and its conclusions, notably the seriously deficient methodology that, for example, does not distinguish in its country analysis between normal and shelf SEs. Moreover, the representativeness of the people interviewed was questioned, as was the narrow view taken by the authors, which is mainly the perspective of the majority shareholder. In fact, the elaborated recommendations went far beyond the scope of the study (which was the evaluation of the SE Regulation, not the SE Directive), whereas no in-depth research on employee involvement was undertaken. In fact, the emphasis put on the supposed negative role of employee involvement rather contributes to conserve the ‘myths about participation in the SE’.


The EU Commission documents are available here.

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