The Commission is to legislate to improve shareholder participation in the running of European companies in which they invest outside their own member state.
New voting rules
The new rules will set down minimum time-limits for advance warning of shareholder meetings and availability of documents. Also, voting by post, by proxy and via e-mail or other electronic means will be allowed.
The right to ask questions of managers will also be guaranteed to shareholders and voting results must be posted on company websites.
The proposed directive will also prohibit ‘share-blocking’, a practice which restricts the selling of shares for a period before a company meeting. Such restrictions are seen as being a major obstacle to shareholder participation.
Financial Services Single Market Progress Report
The proposal coincides with the publication of a progress report on the single market in financial services, which shows, says the Commission that “significant strides” have been made since 2004. 98% of the financial services action plan measures have been achieved together with considerable progress in the areas of corporate governance (to which the shareholders rights proposal will contribute), accountancy, auditing and company law.