There are differences in the level of sanctions which apply across the EU if an employer breaches rights and duties relating to European works councils (EWC). In a critical research paper from ETUI (the European Trade Union Institute), the example is given of potential fines ranging from 4 Euros to nearly 200,000 Euros across the EU.

For some time trade unions have lobbied for a change to EWC sanctions, arguing that without consistent, tougher sanctions, the EWC Directive will be ineffective. Given that the EU Commission is expected to review and report on the implementation of the Directive by member states next year, we expect unions to push for sanctions to feature heavily in that report. Their hope will be that sanctions judged ineffective by the Commission may ultimately result in infringement proceedings, unless member states take remedial action.

In particular, it should be noted that the ETUI research would like EWC sanctions to include the blocking of management decision making. This could involve injunctions halting any merger, sale or other associated commercial activity until management have addressed failures in the EWC information and consultation process. Such a change is unlikely given anticipated opposition from member states, however, other recommendations, including the funding of EWC litigation by the employer, may meet with more success.