Commission reports satisfactory progress in eliminating ‘golden shares’

22 July 2005

The Commission published a staff report which highlights the considerable progress made in the EU in eliminating special rights, often referred to as golden shares, in privatised companies. The report provides the first comprehensive review of developments in this field ten years after free movement of capital became a core freedom with the coming into force of the Maastricht Treaty. The report highlights the impact of the recent European Court of Justice case law in forcing Member States to abandon special rights. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the situation in the 25 Member States based on a survey carried out in the course of 2004.

Although there are certain exceptions, special rights cannot be justified under the Treaty Articles (56-60) on the free movement of capital as they hinder cross-border direct and portfolio investment and thereby the proper functioning of the Internal Market. “Special rights” - also known as “golden shares” - are used by governments to maintain control in privatized companies by granting themselves rights that go beyond those associated with normal shareholding. Member States were persuaded to abandon their special rights in several companies, either voluntarily or as a result to the rulings of the Court of Justice.

Press release

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