Since 2004, the European Company otherwise known as the Societas Europaea Statute enables companies to operate their businesses on a pan-European basis and be governed by a supra-national European law directly applicable in the member states, rather than by national law.
Registering a European company can be a beneficial business decision, which can improve a company’s global competitiveness, reduce administrative and legal costs, and make decision-making processes faster and more efficient.
However a European Company is formed, it cannot be registered and established unless an agreement on arrangements for employee involvement has been concluded, or if the period for negotiations on such an agreement has expired without an agreement being reached. This generally means a many meetings with international participants.
Involvement of employees in the decision-making process secures the right of employees to information and influencing decisions to be taken within the company using the mechanisms of information, consultation and participation. Employee involvement in an SE is governed by the provisions of EU Directive 2001/86/EC.
The registration of a European Company must be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Every SE must be registered in the state where it has its registered office, in a register designated by the law of that state.
What does it mean for language services? In preparation for any of the meetings, a special negotiating body (SNB) is established to prepare the agreement on a European Works Council with the company becoming an SE. A translation company is generally required to translate all background documents that have to be presented and discussed at the meeting, along with the draft agreements and meeting’s agenda. These include key information on co-determination.
- When management and employee representatives negotiate on an agreement for establishing a European Works Council, all these meetings should be attended by representatives of all countries in which the company founding an SE have offices. The documentation needs to be translated into all languages of the participants. This means that the language translations needed can reach and even exceed 23 languages.
- At the meetings themselves, at least 2 interpreters per language should be available. Every participant must be able to communicate with all the others, very frequently on subjects with which they are entirely unfamiliar. In general, the agreements tend to follow the legal situation in the country in which the headquarters of the company establishing the SE is sited. It is advisable that simultaneous interpretation is used, instead of consecutive interpretation. Consecutive interpreting can slow down the meeting in times. Meetings for establishing European Works Councils are similar to multilingual conference ones and similar techniques to conference interpreting apply. It is not advisable to rely on a single interpreter per language, because one interpreter cannot effectively interpret for more than a couple of hours at most.
After establishment, European Work Councils meet for an agreed number of times a year. It is advisable to use the services of the same interpretation and translation company for each meeting to ensure consistency.
- At meetings, it is important that all concerned have an accurate record of what was said and what was agreed upon. A translation company must provide full translations of the minutes and the meeting’s executive summary report.
Finally, the negotiated agreements must be translated and made available not only to the participants but to all employees in their own languages.
EVS Translations has successfully assisted several companies in achieving SE status. Our knowledge of the European Union legislation, information on co-determination especially in Germany and our capability to provide skilled teams of interpreters are key elements here.