Workers will be better represented in EU-based multinational companies thanks to new rules for the so-called European Works Councils (EWCs). These Councils ensure that employees are involved in decisions related to transnational issues, like re-structurings. They help workers anticipate and manage changes in the world of work, including labour shortages and new technologies. Around 1,000 EWCs currently represent nearly 11.3 million European employees. While these Councils represent more than half of the eligible workforce, this is still less than a third of the estimated almost 4,000 eligible companies.
The Commission has proposed the following changes to how European Works Councils work:
- Giving employees equal rights to request the creation of a new EWC: exemptions will be removed, potentially allowing 5.4 million additional workers in 320 multinational companies to request the establishment of such a Council.
- Ensuring that workers in multinational companies are consulted in a timely and meaningful way on issues which concern them
- Making sure EWCs have the necessary resources to do their work
- Putting in place terms for a gender-balanced EWC
The proposed measures will improve transnational information and consultation, companies’ strategic decision-making, and mutual trust between management and workers. They are anticipated to come at a minimal cost for companies, with no negative impact expected on their competitiveness.
Energy Storage Summit gathers global experts in London
Nearly 1,000 experts and leaders in the global energy storage industry gathered in Hammersmith, London this week to attend the 9th Energy Storage Summit 2024.
The event, one of Europe’s largest networking events for the energy storage sector, hosted over a thousand delegates from across the globe.
The line up of speakers included Nick Winser, commissioner at the National Infrastructure Commission; Doriana Forleo Executive Director at Energy Storage Coalition, and UK minister of state for climate change and energy Graham Stuart.
According to analysts, by 2030 the global cumulative installed capacity for energy storage will have reached 1,420 GWh, with large-scale development of storage power stations from 0.1 GWh to 1 GWh and then to 10 GWh becoming an inevitable trend. However, such expansion will bring with it challenges in cost efficiency, safety and operation and maintenance complexity, making the need for advanced storage technology and design more urgent.
European product recalls increases for the fifth consecutive year
European product recalls increased for the fifth consecutive year in 2023, recording 12,498 total events. According to Sedgwick brand protection’s 2024 European State of the Nation Recall Index report, this represents an 18.5% increase over the previous record of 10,545 events, which was set in 2022.
Sedgwick’s quarterly Recall Index report analyses data from the UK and EU automotive, consumer product, food and drink, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries. This edition provides a comprehensive year-in-review analysis of 2023 recall data and product safety trends. The surge in European product recalls experienced in 2023 was driven by an increase in events in the consumer products (+49.1%), medical device (+20.0%), pharmaceutical (+7.7%), and food and drink (+7.0%) industries. Even though the automotive industry saw fewer recalls than it did in 2022 (-3.3%), 2023 still recorded the second-highest number of total events in the past ten years.
Beyond the recall data and analysis, this report also provides essential insights into the regulatory developments and predictions that stakeholders should look out for in 2024. Regulators across the EU and UK are continuing to enact layers of regulations to protect the environment as well as public safety, as seen in 2023 with the EU Batteries Regulation and proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. Companies will need to be aware of not only their own actions but the operations and practices of their entire supply chain. Moreover, consumers are increasingly demanding greater transparency and information regarding product manufacturing and advertising, prompting regulators to introduce new measures addressing advertising and labelling practices.
In addition, there is increased enforcement against anticompetitive behaviour and cartel activity across sectors and geographic borders. Simultaneously, the EU is in the process of modernising existing regulations, while the UK builds its own regulatory framework independent of the EU. Against this backdrop, numerous ongoing global economic and political challenges persist, adding further complexity to the risk landscape.
“2024 is shaping up to be a busy year for regulatory activity, and industry stakeholders can expect to see more regulator and consumer scrutiny of product safety and the practices of businesses throughout the entire product lifecycle,” says Chris Occleshaw, International Product Recall Consultant at Sedgwick. “Amidst a complicated risk landscape rife with evolving challenges, businesses should take time to create a strategic and well-practiced plan for addressing product recalls and in-market challenges.”
Applications open for EU Innovation Fund
The application window for the Mastercard Strive EU Innovation Fund is now open. The initiative is aimed at accelerating the development of solutions to support European small businesses on their digital journey.
The Strive EU Innovation Fund will provide up to 20 projects from EU member states with equity-free grants of up to €500,000, as well as any technical assistance and mentoring they may need to accelerate the development of their solutions.
Applications are open to entities of all sizes – from startups to those that are more established – provided they are soliciting innovation that helps Europe’s small business community to unlock working capital and credit through embedded finance, enhance digital safely by bolstering cybersecurity and harness artificial intelligence (AI) in business.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the European economy and – now more than ever – it is critical that they receive the support they need to join the digital economy,” said Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard Europe. “We are excited to open the application window for the Strive EU Innovation Fund and to hear about some of the best projects coming from Europe’s most innovative minds over the coming months.”
Strive EU will build on the strengths of two country-specific initiatives in Europe, Strive Czechia and Strive UK. Since launching in 2021, Strive UK has reached over 1M entrepreneurs, connecting them to resources, training, and mentors to help them navigate the digital economy. Strive Czechia is working to rapidly grow local stakeholder capacities, reaching MSEs across the country with new service lines, including peer shadowing and technical assistance, with the goal of reaching over 250,000 MSEs.
In addition to the Innovation Fund, Mastercard will establish a Strive EU Small Business Council to convene the European entrepreneurial ecosystem and encourage collaboration. Chaired by Mark Barnett, the Council will comprise 10-15 influential experts, private sector entities and small business representatives, who will be announced in early February.
The application window for the Strive EU Innovation Fund will be open until March 11, 2024. To find out more, please visit: https://strivecommunity.org/innovation-fund-eu
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