The closure of M&S's stores in Europe left many a continental anglophile with marmalade withdrawal symptoms. It also influenced the decision of European employment ministers in June to agree to a new Directive on national works councils.
This will require companies with at least 50 employees (or 20 employees at a particular workplace) to inform and consult worker representatives about economic and strategic matters, employment trends and prospective job losses, reorganisations and contractual changes. If employers fail to play ball, it can lead to their decisions being declared void.
On the bright side, the UK has secured a major concession. It will initially apply only to companies with 150 or more employees when it is implemented in three years, and after a further two years to those with 100 or more staff. Only after seven years will it cover businesses with 50 or more workers.