Brussels, 12 December 2012
Commission plans to modernise European company law and corporate governance
The European Commission has today adopted an Action Plan outlining future initiatives in the areas of company law and corporate governance.
European company law and corporate governance should make sure that companies are competitive and sustainable. The Commission's analysis and consultations over the last two years clearly indicate that further improvements can be made, by encouraging and facilitating long-term shareholder engagement, by increasing the level of transparency between companies and their shareholders and by simplifying cross-border operations of European undertakings.
On the basis of its reflection and the results of the consultations, the Commission identified several lines of action in the area of company law and corporate governance that are fundamental to putting in place modern legislation for sustainable and competitive companies.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "This Action Plan on company law and corporate governance sets out the way forward: shareholders should receive additional rights, but also fully assume their responsibilities to make sure that the company remains competitive over the longer term. Companies should also become more transparent in several respects. This will contribute to effective governance of companies."
Key elements of the action plan
1. Increasing the level of transparency between companies and their shareholders in order to improve corporate governance. This will include in particular:
2. Initiatives aimed at encouraging and facilitating long-term shareholder engagement, such as:
3. Initiatives in the field of company law to support European businesses and encourage their growth and competitiveness:
In addition, the action plan foresees merging all major company law directives into a single instrument. This would make EU company law more accessible and comprehensible and reduce the risk of future inconsistencies.
The Commission’s ‘Europe 2020’ Strategy (see IP/10/225) calls for improvement of the business environment in Europe. EU company law and corporate governance rules for companies, investors and employees must be adapted to the needs of today’s society and to the changing economic environment. European company law and corporate governance should make sure that companies are competitive and sustainable.
With its 2011 Green Paper on EU corporate governance (IP/11/404) the Commission initiated an in-depth reflection to evaluate the effectiveness of the current corporate governance rules for European companies. It also carried out an on-line public consultation on the future of European company law which generated a large number of responses by a wide variety of stakeholders (IP/12/149).
See also MEMO/12/972
For information on company law and corporate governance: