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Brussels, 20 January 2005

Corporate governance: Commissioner McCreevy outlines his views to European Forum

Commissioner McCreevy opened today the first meeting of the European Corporate Governance Forum which was formally established by the Commission on 15 October 2004 (see IP/04/1241). Welcoming some of the most prominent European personalities in the field of corporate governance, the Commissioner underlined again the fundamental importance of sound corporate governance for the European Union, as an element in boosting market confidence, encouraging investment and therefore in helping push the EU meet its Lisbon competitiveness objectives (see also SPEECH/05/26).

“Europe has a role to play”, said Mr McCreevy. “ That role is to co-ordinate where possible Member States’ efforts to improve corporate governance practices, through changes in their national company law, securities law or in corporate governance codes. There are different traditions in different Member States and those should be respected, but we must avoid unnecessary divergences which distort the single market and make life difficult for investors. Member States want and need to learn from each other’s experience. The Corporate Governance Forum brings together a vast amount of high-level experience and expertise. It has a key strategic role to play”.

Since the publication in May 2003 of the Action Plan on Modernising Company Law and Enhancing Corporate Governance in the European Union (see IP/03/716), a number of initiatives have been undertaken. In October, the Commission adopted two Recommendations on independent directors (see IP/04/1182 and IP/04/1183) as well as a proposal for the simplification of the formation, maintenance and alteration of companies’ capital (see IP/04/1334) A political agreement was reached in the Council on the 10th Company Law Directive on cross-border mergers in November 2004 (see IP/04/1405 ).

Other important initiatives are on their way, such as a proposal for a 14th Company Law Directive on the cross-border transfer of the registered office and a proposal for a Directive on shareholders’ rights, for which a preparatory consultation was published in September 2004 (see IP/04/1107).

The Commission also published on 7 January 2005 a call for applications from suitably qualified individuals wishing to participate in an Advisory Committee which will provide detailed technical expertise to the Commission for the preparation of legislative and implementing measures on corporate governance and company law. The Advisory Committee will be consulted by the Commission on a regular basis.

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