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Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

15. Future of European company law (debate)
Video of the speeches

  President. – The next item is the debate on the oral question to the Commission by Klaus-Heiner Lehne, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on the future of European company law (O-000110/2012 – B7-0117/2012)


  Klaus-Heiner Lehne, author. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, firstly, I would like to express my thanks to the Commission, and particularly to Commissioner Barnier, for the very simple reason that in the last legislative period, which ended in 2009, our experience was that – with the exception of a very brief moment of awakening when the proposal for the European private company came – Commissioner Barnier’s predecessor, Commissioner McGreevy, in fact allowed company law to be left in a deep sleep, and we made no progress at all over those five years on this important issue, which also has significance for the internal market. Thankfully, that has changed entirely.

We now have a multitude of consultation documents from the European Commission, a group of experts that has debated the issue of how to develop company law further, and now we have a brand new consultation which, naturally, Parliament is looking at too. The Committee on Legal Affairs decided that we did not want to do this in the form of a report, simply because a report requires even more time and is naturally somewhat more detailed. Instead, we chose to put an oral question to the Commission, in order to be able to discuss this topic with the Commission, with Commissioner Barnier, and so that, at the same time, we can make clear Parliament’s position on what should happen now in a subsequent resolution.

Just as was the case around ten years ago, it is necessary to develop a new action plan on European company law. This is necessary for a great many reasons. There are gaps in European company law, real gaps, which basically are resulting in the fact that the internal market has not been completed. To mention one example, there is the missing 14th directive on the transfer of company seats, which, in my opinion, is a fairly typical example of such a gap. Parliament has asked twice in legislative own-initiative reports for the European Commission to table specific proposals. There is also the committee of experts convened by the European Commission itself, which has expressed the same opinion on this. Quite simply, it is part of the basic freedoms of the internal market that a company in the internal market must be able to transfer its registered domicile. This is not possible at present, or only under extremely difficult conditions.

In view of this, however, I must, at the same time, criticise the fact that the position of the European Commission to date on the topic of the 14th directive actually lags considerably behind Parliament’s expectations, and we are convinced that it does not meet the standard of a qualified answer to a legislative initiative either. However, we are of good courage that in the course of the continued work, when we get to the action plan, this proposal will hopefully then be reflected in the action plan.

Another important point in respect of company law is the issue of how to develop company law further in order to reduce the burden on companies. Here, the Commission has already tabled very specific proposals, such as on the subject of accounting. However, there is more to do beyond this and other aspects now require clarification in the course of the consultations. We are expecting further proposals from the Commission in this area, too.

I should also like to ask the Commission to revive the topic of the European private company, which, at the moment, is stuck in the Council. If there are individual Member States in the EU – and here I am expressing my own personal opinion – that are intrinsically unable, because of their own lack of decisiveness, to end the deadlock here and take Europe forward, then just as in the case of other projects – in the case of patent law or family law, for example – we must give some thought to using the instrument of enhanced cooperation, so that at least all the other Europeans will be able to enjoy this possibility. I would ask the Commission to give this issue greater consideration.

Another outstanding problem is the issue of applicable law; in other words, a kind of Rome Regulation for cross-border problems in company law. I believe that this issue, too, needs further investigation and discussion, and I would ask the Commission to do this.

Insolvency law is also closely related to this. In this area, however, it has been announced anyway that we will receive a specific proposal from the European Commission in the foreseeable future.

As you can see, a huge amount remains to be done in the area of company law. I am grateful that Commissioner Barnier has taken the initiative here and that we can see that in the second half of this legislative period, we will receive significant proposals, which could then represent progress in the completion of the internal market. Parliament supports both the principle and the approach here. Naturally, we will have to talk about the details, and we will certainly do so. However, for the time being, I would like to give the Commission our thanks. Naturally, we would now be pleased if the Commission were actually to take up our initiatives and turn them into specific proposals.


  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, thank you to Klaus-Heiner Lehne for what he has said and the initiative that he has taken in this regard. I promise him that on this issue, as on all the others, I am wide awake, Mr President, and proactive, especially as company law, honourable Members, is an important tool for growth. This is about the context of current day-to-day life for all businesses in Europe. Our objective is to create, with this law and with other reforms, the most efficient ‘climate’ for the work of businesses: European mobility.

I would like to reiterate that this large market must not primarily or only be for large businesses, but also for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), even for very small businesses. These are very real issues. That is why I was pleased about the success of the consultation on company law. We received more than 500 responses – and the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Mr Lehne, also mentioned the contribution of the European Parliament – from all economic, social and academic stakeholders across Europe. We are analysing objectively the responses that we have received.

At this stage, from what I understand from the responses that we received, and based also on my own convictions, we have very strong support for European initiatives in this area of company law, particularly on two points. Firstly, facilitating businesses’ cross-border operations. I bring to mind the improvement of the transnational merger system, the measures on cross-border divisions, and the rather difficult question of cross-border transfers of company seats.

Secondly, the codification of company law. We are currently working on this. It is a lengthy process, on which I hope, before my term is over, to be in a position to make you some concrete proposals. Based on these results, Mr Lehne, I am preparing, ladies and gentlemen, for this coming October, an action plan with a series of concrete short-, medium- and long-term initiatives in the area of company law. You will find in this plan almost all of the points that you yourself have raised, Mr Lehne. However, I will come back to a few of them.

This plan will cover our thinking on the future of company law and also our current work on corporate governance. Indeed, I am convinced that one cannot separate the two, governance and company law. The two main thrusts are thus grouped together to create this coherent framework. Furthermore, on this point I would like to praise the work already completed with regard to company governance by your Parliament, in particular, by your rapporteur, Mr Bodu, whom I thank.

Naturally, I do not have the intention nor the possibility to say in detail what this plan will cover, but I would like to briefly mention a few of the themes. Firstly, this plan will include initiatives to create greater transparency between companies and investors. We must draw lessons from certain irresponsible practices and behaviours that we have condemned.

A first initiative will involve non-financial transparency of companies, with a key element being the obligation on companies to make known their diversity policy on management boards. I will also propose steps to encourage more constructive and long-term involvement of shareholders in companies. In another area, I do intend to suggest giving greater responsibility to shareholders, for example, in setting the framework for salaries in the financial sector.

Another theme of this plan is that I would like to propose measures to stimulate the competitiveness of European businesses. There is a very strong demand for facilitating the cross-border operations of businesses. In this connection, I have fully understood the sense of Parliament’s resolution on a 14th directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats. There are opinions that are rather diverse on this matter. The question of a new proposal remains open, but it is clear that I would like only to commit to this path on the basis of clear support from Member States and from the European Parliament. In light of the results of our consultation, I will ask my departments to reassess the situation and, if need be, to prepare a proposal for a directive.

A few words also, Mr Lehne, on a point that you raised, which is the European private company. This is a subject which is blocked in the Council, where unanimity has not yet been reached, despite the efforts of several presidencies, and despite my own efforts. It is an important tool to help small and medium-sized European businesses and I do not wish to exclude any means to enable it to progress, including, Mr Lehne, the route of enhanced cooperation, which can be used if a sufficient number of Member States wish it, and it is this that I will verify. I would like to say that I am willing to support enhanced cooperation on this matter.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am increasingly convinced that Europe needs a regulatory framework that is adapted to the changes in the economic environment, to the needs of present day society. This regulatory framework must allow businesses to grow more easily within the Union, for the good of their shareholders and their customers as well as their employees.

I am mindful that some recent initiatives in the area of company law have encountered difficulties. This is not a reason for me to close the door and to do nothing more. We will therefore prepare a fairly full and detailed plan, in the spirit that I have just indicated.

That is why I also await with great interest the discussions that you will be having on your resolution on the future of company law. It will come at the right time to illuminate our work and lend more robustness, and undoubtedly more ambition as well, to the action plan that I will present to you in a few months.


  Tadeusz Zwiefka, on behalf of the PPE Group.(PL) Mr President, modern, well constructed European company law – and I do not have to convince anyone of this – is one of the most important conditions necessary for the single market to function well. I would say it is a sine qua non for the single market to be effective. I am, therefore, extremely pleased that on the question of company law, we are seeing significant progress in the work of the European Commission as well as a growing commitment to the matter. For a long time now, the members of Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs have emphasised that legislation which is appropriate for the current situation and which meets the needs of EU businesses is extremely important for the healthy and dynamic development of the European economy.

When European firms diversify or undertake new forms of activity, by making use of the Internet for example, modern legal measures are required which, above all, relieve the administrative burden and excessive bureaucracy while also allowing businesses to develop their operations in a way which, for them, is clear, transparent and secure. I am certain that consultations on the future of European company law, which have just been completed, will show the European Commission the proper course of action – by which I mean rectifying where possible the inadequate legislation which, unfortunately, still exists in the single market and completing it with new and good legislation.

I think, too, that the work currently being done in our Committee on Legal Affairs on legislation affecting the auditing and governance of companies will not, in practice, be able to proceed very far without the adoption of new or amended legislation on company law. I do, of course, realise that initiatives in this area – as the Commissioner has said – may encounter certain obstacles, particularly from some of the Member States. I am certain, however, that the added value of these projects will convince those who are undecided, particularly if the interested parties themselves, by which I mean the people who run Europe’s companies, choose to adopt them. I would like to express to the Commissioner and to all of us my hope that this work can be brought to a successful conclusion.


  Evelyn Regner, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DE) Mr President, thank you for your statement, Commissioner. I should like to approach it somewhat differently. Yes, naturally there are substantial gaps in European company law that need to be closed. It is necessary to close them. However, the short-term thinking behind the shareholder concept is one of the main causes of the crisis. The economic and financial crisis has shown us very clearly that this policy has failed. An enterprise must be seen as a social organisation that has responsibilities to shareholders, employees, creditors and society as a whole. Consequently, information, consultation and codetermination are essential if the social responsibility of enterprises is to be more than just lip service. In any event, the competition between national and European legal forms must be ended.

You mentioned the 14th directive, Commissioner. As rapporteur for the recent resolution on the 14th directive, I am disappointed at the inadequate follow-up from the Commission. Making reference to the impact assessment carried out by the old European Commission in 2007 is not sufficient. I call on you to take specific measures and to stick to the procedure agreed between the Commission and Parliament.

I should like to state firmly that the work on the European private company was taken up too early, has not been fully thought out by the Commission, and does not take into account the current requirements of the people of Europe. If we are to achieve our objective of sustainable European company law, what we need instead is a European framework instrument for worker participation. The resolution from the Committee on Legal Affairs tells you to pursue a stronger stakeholder approach in all your future initiatives, in order to safeguard the interests of workers, creditors and members, and to comply with national regulations on protection and codetermination.


  Cecilia Wikström, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(SV) Mr President, the debate on Europe has recently focused on the best way to overcome the economic crisis – that has, of necessity, been the case. Savings and acceptance of financial responsibility have been set against measures for stimulating growth.

In the political rhetoric, I think, unfortunately, we very often miss the fundamental question, and that is: how do we intend to safeguard development and prosperity in the EU beyond the crisis? As we all know, prosperity does not just materialise out of thin air. It can only arise when people, using their creativity, create goods and services.

One of the most important things we can do in the political arena to create jobs and growth is to tear down barriers to trade and barriers to enterprise and trade in general, and to ensure that operators and innovators are able to utilise their creativity to develop their businesses.

The resolution we are debating today deals with exactly this. These are positive reforms within European company law, and I would like to thank Commissioner Barnier for this sound proposal. These are important steps for strengthening competitiveness, particularly that of small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. We need to have the courage to keep alive the vision of Europe beyond the crisis: fewer barriers to trade, but more in the way of simple cross-border legislation in the area of company law. Like my fellow Member, Mr Lehne, I would like to urge the Commission to look closely at this and to come back to us with further compelling proposals that are moving in this direction.


  Amelia Andersdotter, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(SV) Mr President, we need to reform European company law. The fragmentation in European company law and tax law is currently creating a situation in which it seems to be more a case of the Member States competing on the European market rather than companies competing with each other for customers.

We also need to rectify the situation whereby companies are using this fragmented legislation for extensive tax planning. We know from discussions concerning the Statutory Audits Directive and the Transparency Directive that many Member States and companies were strongly opposed to auditing on a project basis and instead focused on reporting their investments on a national basis. This will result in the very great risk of assets being moved from the European Union to tax havens in third countries, and it is a situation that cannot be rectified, primarily due to opposition from the Member States.

Above all, I am concerned about the fact that the Council’s reactions to the proposals from Parliament have, in general, been poor. We have seen in connection with the transaction tax and the consolidated tax base that as soon as Parliament takes a decision in the right direction, the Council tries to block it. I naturally ask myself how we as Parliament can tackle this and what the Commission can do to get the Council to stop being so reluctant to cooperate.


  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI).(BG) Mr President, I am going to pick up on what Ms Andersdotter just said about competition between Member States and not between individual companies. I find this completely normal as the countries in the European Union differ greatly from each other, mainly due to the fact that, for instance, companies from Mr Lehne’s country, Germany, are much more au fait with the provisions of European company law than companies may be in Bulgaria, for example, which has been a member of the European Union for just five years.

This is why, when talking about a common European framework for European company law, specific features in the newer Member States, which may not be as competitive as a founding state, for example, also need to be looked at. When new changes or a new regulation are planned, a great deal of attention needs to be paid in case companies in a particular new Member State are being repressed by this law and more opportunities are being given to companies from an old Member State, which have the appropriate expertise to operate in the field of company law.

This is why I recommend that the Commission takes into account the individual Member States’ national characteristics and does not introduce complete liberalisation, even though, in order to actually achieve economic growth, companies need to be given greater freedom, instead of us imposing further frameworks on them.


  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, company law can act as a lever for developing the internal market. In difficult times like these, we now need to work together to find acceptable solutions that can be implemented rapidly.

I shall therefore be very clear, Commissioner, as to what this Parliament expects in the coming months; you have already noted certain requirements in your speech. First of all, we hope for a pragmatic and flexible approach to make the legislation clearer and more accessible. To that end, even though a single instrument would offer significant benefits, the directives could alternatively be grouped by sector: for example, by the principles of function, mobility and forms of law.

The other priority is to place European company law at the service of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Given that over 90% of European businesses are SMEs, the internal market needs to be the natural environment for them to operate in, not merely a potential option.

Lately, Parliament has been waiting, with some impatience, for a legislative proposal to set out the measures to facilitate companies’ cross-border mobility. That is all I shall say, because this subject is so huge that it is hard to cover it all in just over a minute. Nevertheless, I believe that there will be no shortage of opportunities for useful discussions.


  Alexandra Thein (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner Barnier, as a liberal, I, too, welcome the hearing instigated by the Commission on the future of European company law. This is a key element of a functioning internal market. There are particular problems in respect of the mobility of our enterprises – in other words, the outstanding 14th company law directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats without having to establish a new company. The Commission has been slow in presenting draft legislation because the Member States are unable to agree on a common line, and negotiations are therefore likely to be difficult. Similarly, it is scarcely possible for shareholder rights to be exercised across borders and we are still awaiting harmonised framework conditions in this area.

There are also problems with the European private company, where the Member States are again blocking progress, being unable to agree on, among other things, the necessity of cross-border aspects, the level of capital stock and worker codetermination.

My final point is that in the current proposed directive on accounting, the Commission has, in my view, made a technical legal error. In principle, the idea of making payment flows from the commodities industry in developing countries transparent is to be welcomed. In terms of legal technicalities, however, this topic does not belong there. If we want to help fight corruption, EU accounting law is not the right place to do it.


  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, company law is particularly important and, along with corporate governance, can, if the laws are drafted well, provide an incentive for foreign investment. Regardless of whether company law and corporate governance are handled together or separately, I believe that it is vital for European companies to benefit from a flexible regulatory framework. This can only be achieved as part of a code of conduct. Therefore, the ‘comply or explain’ principle must provide the solution, with the tough application of sanctions if deviations from rules are not explained in a transparent, detailed manner.

There must also be a single code of conduct for the whole EU because, otherwise, we cannot call it European legislation. The code of conduct must be specifically applied to listed companies because the only important factor in this process is the number of shareholders. Other indicators such as business turnover or the number of employees are irrelevant from a company perspective. There are obviously also situations when the rules may go outside the code of conduct’s flexible framework. I will mention conflicts of interest as an example. They need to be punished and discouraged in order to protect investors and employees.

I hope that Commissioner Barnier concurs with the idea that we need investment and jobs created by market instruments rather than by stringent regulations, which are regarded by investors as obstacles blocking their path.


  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the future of European company law will undoubtedly determine the future of the European Union itself. One need think only of the 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a sector that has gradually grown stronger but that now, more than ever, needs structural reform.

The single European market will surely profit from the perspectives of a European company law with a vision. Clearly, this vision must be imparted by the Commission, and it seems to me that the Commissioner’s comments are heading in this direction. We need an action plan with clear, accessible rules, where reducing red tape is given a high profile, and where company law is there to serve SMEs and business in general.

At the same time, we also need to look at other important issues, in particular, data protection, which must be updated and continually monitored and which could add to the burden on business. We need action for SMEs, extra safeguards for businesses to guarantee their rights, and cross-border mobility for companies, which must also be guaranteed and supported through an overarching approach aimed at meeting the requirements of company law, SMEs, healthy enterprise and, indeed, the employment market. We therefore trust that Mr Barnier’s proposals will bring company law in step with the times.


Catch-the-eye procedure


  Sergio Gaetano Cofferati (S&D).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, as you have heard, many of us agree not only about the importance of company law but also about the urgent need for binding rules in this sphere.

I believe that the most sensitive subject is the various cross-border problems. We need a single market where business, too, can benefit from adequate, non-restrictive mobility conditions within the EU. At issue, however, is not only business mobility but also the mobility of the people who work in those businesses. The proposals for discussion therefore need to be drafted very carefully to avoid pitting the needs – or, indeed, the rights – of those who run businesses against the equally important rights of the people who work in them. In other words, a clear distinction must be drawn between business mobility and relocation, which damages local communities.


  Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (PPE).(PL) Mr President, Commissioner Barnier, we have said a great deal in the House about the deficiency of company law. I would like to refer to another aspect of this deficiency, one we have not mentioned yet – the discrepancy which exists between the practices of many company boards and certain European values. One such value is non-discrimination on the grounds of gender. I would therefore like to ask that when drafting this legislation, room be made in it for the suggestions put forward by the European Parliament in its report on corporate governance. These suggestions refer to the proposals of Commissioner Reding on increasing and, as it were, forcing company boards to increase the proportion of women to 30% by 2025 – the proportion of women on company boards, because, in many cases at present, they are almost completely absent. I hope that Commissioner Barnier, who is sympathetic to this idea and this proposal, will take account of it when drafting the legislation.


  Jutta Steinruck (S&D).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, in view of the economic problems, the crisis and the challenges faced by European companies, their employees, creditors and other shareholders and stakeholders, EU company law needs to focus on a sustainable, forward-looking corporate model characterised by long-term thinking.

I am therefore asking you to pursue the aims of a social Europe. As part of that, you need to look at the involvement of workers in corporate decisions. You should also involve the social partners in your initiatives. After all, businesses have a social responsibility towards society and in respect of their contribution to growth and employment. In all your proposals, you must ensure that, as far as possible, existing rules on codetermination cannot be bypassed or eroded. We need the highest possible standards in European companies and we need corporate decisions to involve all those affected.


  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Mr President, the Commission’s efforts to support the functioning of the single market using appropriate types of European trading companies is a process that must tackle new obstacles relating to the national company law of the individual Member States. We should not therefore entertain any illusions that the process will be swift, or the solution simple. The fact that small and medium-sized businesses are the most important contributors to economic stability and job creation indicates where the European Commission should primarily focus its efforts. At present, only 23% of small and medium-sized businesses are also developing activities beyond the borders of their own country. According to expert analyses, the EU would gain as much as EUR 6.3 billion if it managed to draw up a specific European legal framework for this business category. From the above, it is clear where the focus of the European Commission’s attention should lie when seeking new, simple business models for cross-border trade in the EU and when improving its company law as currently applicable.


End of the catch-the-eye procedure


  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, I was very pleased with the proposals that were put forward and with the questions that were put to us, and with their quality.

Again, this first debate that the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Mr Lehne, has called for, the resolution, the work that I have confirmed to you, which is quite ambitious, on this action plan, will all help to respond to the many speeches that were made.

I would like to thank Mr Zwiefka and Ms Wikström for their encouragement – I did hear what they said – to be ambitious and comprehensive.

Ms Regner mentioned two points, as did Mr Lehne. I will not be coming to back to the 14th directive. I have told you about the reassessment that we are carrying out, and the new proposal that we were going to prepare, if need be. Ms Regner, you brought up a point that Ms Steinbrück also mentioned earlier, which is a sensitive one, that of worker involvement. The protection of workers is a sensitive subject, and the area of worker involvement is an issue to which I personally, as part of my political engagement, have long been very alert, as have you, Mr President.

It is clear, moreover, that it is on this subject, Ms Regner, that the text on the European private company (SPE) is currently being blocked. I hope that it will be unblocked and, in any case, I have confirmed to you that I was willing to support a proposal for enhanced cooperation which would allow progress on this subject, if a sufficient number of States agreed.

Ms Andersdotter mentioned taxation. Clearly, when one talks about businesses, about the level playing field, about the single market, it is evident that these fiscal inequalities, or sometimes tax competition within the market itself, feature among the key points. That is why I am grateful to you for observing that the Single Market Act, which we spoke about earlier and which we will speak about again in September, contains a ‘taxation’ chapter, which my colleague, Mr Šemeta, proposed along with energy taxation, harmonisation of the bases of the corporation tax system and, in addition, the financial transaction tax.

Mr Stoyanov mentioned national and sometimes regional particularities. I endeavour to take account of these particularities in all laws that we propose up to the point at which, Mr Stoyanov, the single market is called into question. You cannot ask anything else of me in my mission as Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services than to eliminate fragmentation, and to allow the free play of fair and equitable openness in inter-company transactions – this is the point mentioned by Mr Paška – to facilitate cross-border employment, trade and communication. I take account of particularities, but my rule and my mission are nonetheless to construct, patiently and with you, the single market.

Mr Iacolino mentioned, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as did Mr Stoyanov. I have spoken a great deal about these and I would like to remind Mr Iacolino that in all laws that we propose, and this will be the case for company law, I endeavour to take account of particularities. Here, the issue is a cross-cutting particularity: – 21 million European companies are small and medium-sized enterprises. I know that the growth that we are waiting for, that we must rebuild, will not come from decrees, nor from speeches, but from the regions and small and medium-sized enterprises, provided that through our laws, through simplifying our texts, we promote the most favourable climate for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Mr Baldassarre, I can confirm that the action plan that we are preparing will carry forward this very ambitious and difficult project of codifying company law, and we will also – I say this to Ms Kolarska-Bobińska – deal with the question of diversity, which I am working on in management boards, though not exclusively, with my colleague, Ms Reding.

Ms Thein mentioned transparency. The draft that I submitted on country by country and project by project transparency has been well received. It is the object of work by your Parliament and by the Council of Ministers. Why did I use both texts, Ms Thein? Because the directive on transparency and the directive on accounting standards allow both listed and unlisted companies to be dealt with. Our ambition, which is quite bold – I saw that it was well received, particularly in Africa – is that 600 listed and unlisted companies should be required to declare what they pay and to whom in the area of the extractive industry and in the area of the logging industry.

On this, I am also minded not to increase, as Ms Thein wished, the burden for small and medium-sized enterprises, but we do have a duty to encourage transparency. This is a just cause.

I again thank Mr Bodu – I said this earlier – for the report that he presented on corporate governance. I am aware of his concerns on conflicts of interest. I am also aware of his desire not to add any burdens through unnecessary regulation – that is also my intention. I will always favour agreement over constraint. Sometimes, however, as we clearly saw with the financial crisis, Mr Bodu, we are required to build or to rebuild a new regulatory framework where we had unduly deregulated and eliminated any form of governance.

Moreover, I will not forget the question of employee involvement, the question of employee shareholding schemes and of everything able to create conditions for better social cohesion within companies. However, it is not necessarily in this text on company law that we should deal with these questions – I have spoken about this with Mr Andor and also with Mr Šemeta. I think, undoubtedly like you yourself, Mr President, that social cohesion is one of the keys to growth in business and in society. I would also say this to Mr Cofferati, who questioned me on this subject.

Finally, I thank Mr Lehne, Mr President, and the members of your committee for having placed this question on the agenda. I have shown you evidence of determination on the part of the Commission at this stage. We will now move forward quickly and precisely with the preparation of this action plan.


  President. – I have received one motion for a resolution(1) tabled in accordance with Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday, 14 June 2012.




(1) See Minutes

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