On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom (UK) formally notified its intention to leave the European Union (EU).
Negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal are ongoing, but their outcome remains so uncertain that it makes any prediction about the future very difficult. Different scenarios are still on the table.
As things now stand, should a Withdrawal Agreement be reached between the EU and the UK, it would have to be formally ratified before 29 March 2019 by both the EU and the UK institutions. Should negotiations on a Withdrawal Agreement fail and/or no transition period be agreed, the UK will automatically exit the EU on 29 March 2019 and all EU law will cease to apply in the UK (this is referred to as the ‘no deal’ or ‘cliff-edge’ scenario).
The consequences that Brexit could have on workers’ rights originating from EU law are also unknown. As unknown is the future of EWCs and SEs established according to UK law as well as the possible repercussions on EWC and SE Works Councils members designated in the UK.
The magnitude of the challenge requires careful anticipation: more than 700 multinational companies which have established an EWC or adopted the SE statute have operations in the UK; at least 2,400 representatives of UK workers in EWCs and SEs are wondering about their future; and the situation of the ca. 140 EWCs and SEs based on UK law remains a moot point.
The time to act is now. The European Trade Union Federations have thus jointly adopted joint recommendations to EWC and SE Coordinators, as well as to worker representatives in SNBs, EWCs and SEs.