Brussels, 24 June 2010
Internal Market: Commission acts to ensure that 12 Member States implement EU rules on shareholders' rights in listed companies and public procurement redress
In order to ensure that EU citizens and businesses fully benefit from the Internal Market, the European Commission has taken action against a total of 12 Member States. It has referred Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Sweden to the Court of Justice for late implementation of the Shareholders' Rights Directive. The Directive introduces minimum standards to ensure that shareholders of companies whose shares are traded on an EU regulated market have timely access to the relevant information ahead of the general meeting and simple means to vote at a distance. In the area of public procurement, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Portugal and Slovenia will receive reasoned opinions requesting them to fully implement the Remedies Directive. The aim of this Directive is to improve the national review procedures that businesses can use when they consider that a public authority has awarded a contract unfairly. If this Directive is not properly and promptly implemented, there is a risk that bidders cannot efficiently challenge illegal contract awards. If a Member State does not reply satisfactorily to its reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice.
Shareholders' Rights Directive - Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Sweden
The Shareholders' Rights Directive introduces minimum standards to ensure that shareholders of companies whose shares are traded on an EU regulated market have timely access to the relevant information ahead of the general meeting and simple means to vote at a distance. The publication of documents on the internet as well as enabling proxy voting and electronic participation are important elements of this. The Directive also abolishes share blocking and introduces minimum standards for the rights to ask questions, put items on the general meeting agenda and table resolutions.
While nineteen Member States have already fully implemented the Directive, eight Member States (Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Sweden) still have to implement some or all of its provisions. Incomplete implementation means that shareholders in those Member states do not enjoy the same rights as elsewhere in Europe and are denied the rights the Directive gives them when investing in publicly listed companies. The deadline for implementation was 3 August 2009.
Public procurement remedies - Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Portugal and Slovenia
Effective procedures for seeking redress are essential in making sure that public contracts ultimately go to the company which has made the best offer. Such procedures will also help make businesses and citizens more confident that public procurement procedures are being conducted in a fair and competitive manner throughout the EU. The Remedies Directive 2007/66/EC aims at strengthening national review procedures for combating illegal contract awards. It introduces a mandatory stand-still period of at least 10 days between the contract award and the actual signature of the contract to allow bidders a reasonable period of time to challenge the award decision. The Directive also seeks to combat illegal direct awards of public contracts, which is the most serious infringement of EU procurement law. Under the Directive, national courts are able to render ineffective such contracts that have been illegally awarded without transparency and prior competitive tendering.
Five Member States – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Portugal and Slovenia – have not fully implemented the Directive in their national laws, for which the deadline was 20 December 2009. Incomplete implementation of the Directive means that European businesses are being denied their rights when participating in public tenders in these Member States. If the Member States concerned do not reply satisfactorily to its reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission may refer the matters to the Court of Justice.
Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States: