Making European Company Statute really effective for business

The European Commission has presented a Report to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of the Regulation on the Statute for a European Company. In theory, the Statute gives companies operating in more than one Member State the option of establishing themselves as a single company under EU law, allowing them to operate throughout the EU with one set of rules, including a unified management and reporting system.

The Report on the application of the Regulation on the Statute for a European Company presented by the European Commission is part of the review process of the European Company (Societas Europaea or SE) Regulation. It includes a description of the positive and negative factors, which influence setting up an SE and highlights trends on the distribution of SEs throughout the EU. It also analyses the main problems encountered when setting up and running an SE.

The European Company (Societas Europaea or SE) has made it possible for companies with a European dimension to transfer the registered seat cross-border, to better reorganise and restructure, and to choose between different board structures. At the same time, it has upheld the rights of employees to be involved in decision-making within companies and has protected the interests of minority shareholders and third parties. The European image and supra-national character are additional advantages that the Statute offers to companies.

However, experience thus far with the SE Regulation has demonstrated that applying the Statute poses a number of practical problems. The SE Statute does not result in a uniform SE legal form across the European Union. It contains multiple references to national law and uncertainty remains as to the legal implications of the Statute's directly applicable rules and their interface with national law. Furthermore, the uneven distribution of SEs across the European Union suggests that the Statute does not respond sufficiently well to the needs of companies in all 27 Member States.

The Commission is currently reflecting on potential amendments to the SE Statute, with a view to making proposals in 2012, if appropriate. Any such amendments, if put forward, would be carried out in parallel with any possible revision of the SE Directive, which would be subject to the consultation of social partners in accordance with the Treaty. More generally, any measures which the Commission would propose as a follow-up to the Report would be subject to better regulation principles, including an impact assessment.