The article analyses the effects of the financial and economic crisis on the structures and activities of the European Works Councils (EWCs) at Honda and Toyota, which until 2007–8 were categorized as non-efficient representation bodies. A theoretical concept is introduced to measure activation and to analyse the factors explaining change/stability. In the empirical part, the EWCs are analysed using data from expert interviews. Both EWCs have undergone different activation ‘paths’, which partly lead to a restructuring of the bodies and the implementation of new co-ordination processes. Yet the basic logic was retained because of cultural and power related aspects.