Commission's proposal to link business registers across Europe will boost cross-border trade

The European Commission has adopted on 25 February a proposal to interconnect business registers within the EU, which aims to facilitate cross-border electronic access to business information, by ensuring business registers are updated, and business information is more easily and readily accessible.  These changes are crucial for companies when setting up branches, conducting cross-border trade or providing cross-border services in the EU.

Business registers are currently organised at national, regional or local level, and lack the capacity to share information in an efficient and transparent manner. The proposal put forward by the European Commission to interconnect business registries, will allow cross-border access to business information so that a business can find out about another business elsewhere in the EU. This interconnection will also be quite helpful in the cases of cross-border mergers and/or seat transfer procedures.

Company information is valuable for consumers, existing or potential business partners, as well as for public administrations. Such cross-border access to business information requires that national business registers cooperate in various ways. Although some cooperation already exists, accessing company information from another Member State is often difficult.

It takes time, and translations are often unavailable. Businesses are faced with diverse national registration systems which is costly. Business information in the register of a company’s foreign branches is often not up to date. Furthermore, it is limited to certain types of information and it does not cover all Member States.

Key advantages of electronically linked businesses registries

  • Help business registers provide reliable and up-to-date information on the status of the company and its foreign branches in Europe.
  • Improve efficient cooperation between business registers in cross-border transactions and mergers by ensuring better electronic links between them.
  • Improving cross-border access to official business information for interested parties such as consumers, existing or potential business partners, the public and the tax and justice administration throughout the EU.

It is estimated that facilitating cross-border electronic access to business information could generate annual savings of more than 69 million euro.

Valuable information also for consumers

Cross-border access to business information is also useful for consumers. The Commission's 2009 report on e-commerce showed that, in 2008, 33% of individuals in the EU ordered online, but cross-border shopping reached only 7%. Consumers underlined that one of the reasons for not buying in another country was the difficulty of establishing whether a seller (usually a company) was trustworthy or not, mainly due to insufficient information and language problems. Today's proposal should increase confidence and transparency in the European single market, ensuring a safer business environment for consumers.