GfK, the German-based market research company, transformed itself into an SE in 2009. Management saw the change as reflecting GfK’s international perspectives and structure, although it also had the side effect of avoiding a major change in the composition of the supervisory board. The transformation has strengthened the European character of social dialogue in GfK, as there are now two non-German members on the supervisory board, and SE works council brings together members from almost all European countries, where GfK operates – the threshold is five employees. The SE works council has already agreed joint European guidelines on one issue, and both management and employee representatives have a generally positive view of the change.
The European Company Statute (SE) is based on the Council Regulation on the Statute for a European Company (2157/2001/EC) and on the Directive supplementing the Statute for a European Company with regard to the involvement of employees (2001/86/EC). It is one of the most important pieces of company legislation published so far by the European Union. Adopted in 2001, it has since October 2004 made it possible for companies operating in more than one EU Member State to reorganise their cross-border business under a single European label. This enables them to work under the umbrella of a single legal framework, thereby reducing the internal costs of operating in several countries. Employee involvement, including participation rights at board level, is the focus of this research report.