Part of objective 3 of the capital markets union (CMU) action plan, action 12 aims to facilitate shareholder engagement.
Europeans increasingly want to have a say in how companies are being run. Shareholder engagement must therefore be further facilitated by making voting easier for investors and corporate actions more efficient. Because of differences in national company laws, many cross-border investors – in particular smaller ones – are unable to exercise their voting rights. Managing complex and divergent corporate action processes, for example to organise companies’ general meetings or send information between issuers and investors, is unnecessarily difficult and costly
Definition of shareholder – Voting rights and corporate action processing
The 2020 CMU action plan announced that, to facilitate investor engagement, in particular across borders, the Commission will assess: (i) the possibility of introducing an EU-wide, harmonised definition of ‘shareholder’, and; (ii) if and how the rules governing the interaction between investors, intermediaries and issuers as regards the exercise of voting rights and corporate action processing can be further clarified and harmonised. This assessment will be completed as part of the evaluation of the implementation of the Shareholder Rights Directive II (SRD2) in Q3 2023.
Use of new technologies
The 2020 CMU action plan also announced that the Commission would examine possible national barriers to the use of new digital technologies in the area of shareholder engagement.. As part of its work on company law and corporate governance, on 21 December 2022 a Staff Working Document (SWD(2022) 447 final) was issued with this assessment.