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Joint Statement on behalf of the trade union movements of Germany, Spain, Great Britain and Ireland

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The European Union cannot only be a project for the benefit of business. The improvement and strengthening of workers’ rights is also vital if workers’ commitment to the EU is to be ensured.

It is unacceptable, therefore, that our governments are engaged, through a series of private agreements, in halting progress on vital social legislation. Between them, the British, Spanish and German governments are colluding to prevent progress on both the European Company Statute and the draft directive on employee information and consultation. The Spanish government has consistently blocked agreement on the European Company Statute – which is then being used as an excuse for holding back progress on the information and consultation directive (with the Irish government adding its voice to those opposing this measure).

Both these measures would establish minimum standards for the rights of employees to be told of events and decisions affecting their livelihood, and to have their views on them to be taken into account by their employers. The need for such minimum standards has been shown up by the currently high level of corporate restructuring, merger and takeover. The need is also underlined by the approaching enlargement of the EU, in which these important rights should form part of the social acquis which new members should observe.

The forthcoming Social Affairs Council on 17 October gives our governments the chance to show that their commitment to a Social Europe goes further than just words. They should drop their opposition to both measures, and prove that they have workers’, as well as businesses’, interests at heart.

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