ecoDa (The European Confederation of Directors' Associations), EuropeanIssuers and ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), believe the proposed measures entail interesting elements that should pave the way towards a modern, more user-friendly and efficient regulatory framework on company law and corporate governance. We share the view that emphasis should be on simplification, shareholders’ identification and their effective engagement, as well as on transparency, but we need to make sure that the foreseen measures will deliver real benefits to companies, shareholders and investors.
John Davies, head of technical at ACCA, says: 'ACCA is very supportive of initiatives aimed at increasing transparency, such as strengthening disclosure on board policies on diversity and risk management, on the quality of explanations for non-compliance in corporate governance reports and regarding shareholders’ engagement via the modification of the Shareholder Rights Directive.
'On the company law components of the Action Plan, we are pleased to see that the Commission is proposing to merge and genuinely codify the provisions of various company law directives to make a more coherent and consistent set of rules. As a global body, ACCA is also very interested in the commitment to further explore the feasibility of the cross-border transfer of the registered office – which is a long running problem area- and the concept of 'group interest'. It will be difficult to resolve them but, in theory, both offer opportunities for benefits to be achieved. We also urge EU decision makers to ensure a proper follow-up of the European Private Company - the so-called SPE - proposal, in order to encourage and facilitate cross border operation by SMEs.'
Lutgart Van den Berghe, Chair of ecoDa Policy Committee, expressed that: 'ecoDa is convinced that only an improvement of the quality of explanations can safeguard the flexibility offered today by the European governance approach. Flexibility was seen as the condition to guarantee that companies have their governance tailored to their specific needs. Notwithstanding that there is some evidence that the quality of explanations and the quantity of the supervision are improving, it is obvious that more should be done to increase the effectiveness of the governance codes and to foster a better dialogue between companies and their shareholders. Therefore, ecoDa welcomes European initiatives to enhance the quality of explanations. More widely, ecoDa claims for proportionate and tailored governance measures, and encourages the European Commission to see governance as a means to an end, not an end in itself.'
Susannah Haan, Secretary General of EuropeanIssuers, said that: 'We are pleased to see the Commission has listened to companies’ concerns regarding the need for more effective shareholder identification and for better disclosure from shareholders regarding their voting policies and use of proxy advisers. It is essential to promote better understanding between companies and shareholders in Europe, given all the regulatory changes which mean that many companies will be obliged in the future to move from bank funding to market finance.'
The challenges will lie in the concrete design and implementation of the proposed actions, which will require on the one hand a balanced and integrated approach from policymakers, and on the other, engagement with stakeholders to ensure that the proposals are perceived to assist improved company performance and integrated shareholder engagement, rather than merely as creating new burdens.
ecoDa, EuropeanIssuers and ACCA look forward to actively contributing the debate. In this spirit, the three bodies are organising a conference on the 4 February 2013 in Brussels called The Action Plan on Corporate Governance and Company Law: What’s in it and why? to present and raise awareness on the new Action Plan, as well as discuss the potential impact of its various proposals and the way forward.
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For more information, please contact:
Susannah Haan, EuropeanIssuers
+32 (0) 2289 25 71
Beatrice Richez-Baum, ecoDa
+32 (0) 32 2 231 58 11
Cecile Bonino, ACCA
+32 (0) 2 286 11 37
Notes to editors
EuropeanIssuers was set up to represent the interests of quoted companies across Europe. Our members include both national associations and companies from all sectors in 14 European countries. We aim to ensure that EU policy creates an environment in which companies can raise capital through the public markets and can deliver growth over the longer-term. We seek capital markets that serve the interests of their end users, including issuers.
- The European Confederation of Directors’ Associations. ecoDa is a not-for-profit association based in Brussels, acting since March 2005 as the "European voice of directors". Through its national institutes of directors (the main national institutes existing in Europe), ecoDa represents around fifty-five thousand board directors from across the EU member states.
- ecoDa's mission is to promote good corporate governance and improve the effectiveness of boards of directors and/or supervisory boards, particularly by means of appropriate director training, professional development and boardroom best practice
- ecoDa’s members: IoD, GUBERNA, IFA, ILA, IC-A, Hallitusammattilaiset ry, the Slovenian association of supervisory board members, the Croatian Association of certified supervisory board members, the Polski Instytut Dyrektorow, the Norwegian institute of directors (Styreinstitutt), the Norwegian StyreAkademiet, the Baltic institute of directors, the Swedish StyrelseAkademien and the Macedonian FYR Institute of Director.
- ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
- We support our 154,000 members and 432,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 80 offices and centres and more than 8,400 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
- Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.