Advanced

The Need for a 14th Company Law Directive on the Transfer of Registered Office

Johnson-Stampe, Johanna LU (2010) JURM01 20101
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Etableringsfriheten för företag är en av de mest fundamentala rättigheterna i Lissabonfördraget. Fördragets artiklar utgör grunden för rättigheten och ger företag rätt att starta eller driva verksamhet i vilken medlemsstat som helst i EU utan att diskrimineras. Denna rättighet har ytterligare utökats genom införandet av nya företagsformer och genom harmonisering av bolagsrätten i ett flertal direktiv. Dessutom, har EG-domstolen (numera Europeiska unionens domstol) allteftersom klarlagt räckvidden av etableringsfriheten. Även om domstolen har bekräftat att ett bolag bildat i en medlemsstat får röra sig fritt inom EU utan att förlora sin status som rättspersonlighet, är det relativt oetablerat om fördraget också ger företagen frihet att byta... (More)
Etableringsfriheten för företag är en av de mest fundamentala rättigheterna i Lissabonfördraget. Fördragets artiklar utgör grunden för rättigheten och ger företag rätt att starta eller driva verksamhet i vilken medlemsstat som helst i EU utan att diskrimineras. Denna rättighet har ytterligare utökats genom införandet av nya företagsformer och genom harmonisering av bolagsrätten i ett flertal direktiv. Dessutom, har EG-domstolen (numera Europeiska unionens domstol) allteftersom klarlagt räckvidden av etableringsfriheten. Även om domstolen har bekräftat att ett bolag bildat i en medlemsstat får röra sig fritt inom EU utan att förlora sin status som rättspersonlighet, är det relativt oetablerat om fördraget också ger företagen frihet att byta nationalitet genom att flytta sitt registrerade säte till en annan medlemsstat.
Det 14:e bolagsrättsdirektivet, som skulle reglera frågan i detalj, har varit på gång sedan mitten av 90-talet men övergavs av Europeiska kommissionen 2007. Direktivet skulle göra det möjligt för ett företag att upphöra att vara ett bolag enligt lagstiftningen i hemmedlemsstaten och bli ett bolag enligt lagstiftningen i värdmedlemsstaten. Under detta förfarande behåller företaget sin rättspersonlighet.
För närvarande kan ett företag endast ändra nationalitet och samtidigt bevara sin rättspersonlighet om det finns en rättslig grund för detta i den nationella lagstiftningen i de berörda medlemsstaterna eller i internationella avtal. Dessutom kan aktiebolag, tack vare direktivet om gränsöverskridande fusioner, genomföra en flytt av sitt registrerade säte genom att bolaget bildar ett dotterbolag i den medlemsstat till vilken man vill flytta och sedan fusionerar in det befintliga bolaget i detta dotterbolag. Slutligen kan flytten göras genom ett SE-bolag, där bolaget först får omvandlas till ett SE-bolag och därefter kan flytta sitt säte i enlighet med bestämmelserna i förordningen, varefter bolaget till sist omvandlas till ett publikt aktiebolag.
Kommissionen fann att dessa befintliga alternativ minskade behovet av ett direktiv. Dessutom hoppades man att Cartesio-målet, som då var på väg att avgöras, skulle bringa mer klarhet i frågan.
Min slutsats är att kommissionen borde ompröva sitt beslut att inte gå vidare med direktivet, eftersom de nuvarande alternativen till en gränsöverskridande flyttning av det registrerade sätet på många sätt inte är tillfredsställande. Cartesio-domen har, enligt min mening, bara gjort behovet av ett direktiv ännu större, särskilt eftersom endast en viss situation berörs och eftersom ett direktiv skulle medföra större rättssäkerhet. Behovet av det 14:e bolagsrättsdirektivet är inte minst av principiell betydelse. Om avsikten med EU är att skapa en enda marknad, varför inte göra det till fullo? (Less)
Abstract
The freedom of establishment for companies is one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the FEU Treaty. The provisions of the Treaty set out the basis for the right and give companies the freedom to take up and pursue activities in any Member State of the EU without being discriminated. This right has been further expanded through the adoption of new company forms as well as harmonised through several company law directives. Furthermore, the ECJ (now Court of Justice of the European Union) has little by little made the scope of the freedom of establishment clearer. While the Court has confirmed that a company incorporated in a Member State may travel freely within the EU without losing its legal personality, it is relatively unestablished... (More)
The freedom of establishment for companies is one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the FEU Treaty. The provisions of the Treaty set out the basis for the right and give companies the freedom to take up and pursue activities in any Member State of the EU without being discriminated. This right has been further expanded through the adoption of new company forms as well as harmonised through several company law directives. Furthermore, the ECJ (now Court of Justice of the European Union) has little by little made the scope of the freedom of establishment clearer. While the Court has confirmed that a company incorporated in a Member State may travel freely within the EU without losing its legal personality, it is relatively unestablished whether the FEU Treaty also affords companies the freedom to change their nationality by moving their registered office to another Member State.
The 14th Company Law Directive, which would regulate the matter in detail, has been underway since the middle of the 90s but was abandoned by the European Commission in 2007. The Directive would make it possible for a company to cease to be a company under the law of the home Member State and become a company under the law of the host Member State. During this procedure, legal personality is retained.
Currently, a corporation can only make an identity-preserving nationality change if there is a legal basis for doing so in the national laws of the Member States concerned or in international agreements. Additionally, due to the Cross-Border Mergers Directive, limited liability companies can effectuate the transfer by a cross-border down stream merger, i.e. the company sets up a subsidiary in the Member State to which it wants to move and then merges the existing company into this subsidiary. Finally, the transfer can be made by means of an SE, which involves conversion to an SE and a subsequent transfer according to the provisions of the SE regulation, after which the company converts back into a public limited liability company.
The Commission found that these existing alternatives reduced the need for a Directive. Furthermore, the Cartesio case, which at the time was about to be decided, was hoped to bring more clarity to the matter.
My conclusion is that the Commission should reconsider its decision not to proceed with the Directive, as the current alternatives to a cross-border transfer of registered office in many ways are not satisfactory. The Cartesio case has, in my view, only made the need for a Directive even greater, as it only deals with one particular situation and because a Directive would provide for more legal certainty. The need for a 14th Company Law Directive is not least of principal significance. If the intention of the EU is to create one single market, why not do it to the full? (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Johnson-Stampe, Johanna LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Behovet av ett 14:e bolagsdirektiv om flytt av det registrerade sätet
course
JURM01 20101
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Associationsrätt, EU-rätt
language
English
id
1715030
date added to LUP
2010-11-18 15:34:07
date last changed
2010-11-18 15:34:07
@misc{1715030,
  abstract     = {The freedom of establishment for companies is one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the FEU Treaty. The provisions of the Treaty set out the basis for the right and give companies the freedom to take up and pursue activities in any Member State of the EU without being discriminated. This right has been further expanded through the adoption of new company forms as well as harmonised through several company law directives. Furthermore, the ECJ (now Court of Justice of the European Union) has little by little made the scope of the freedom of establishment clearer. While the Court has confirmed that a company incorporated in a Member State may travel freely within the EU without losing its legal personality, it is relatively unestablished whether the FEU Treaty also affords companies the freedom to change their nationality by moving their registered office to another Member State. 
The 14th Company Law Directive, which would regulate the matter in detail, has been underway since the middle of the 90s but was abandoned by the European Commission in 2007. The Directive would make it possible for a company to cease to be a company under the law of the home Member State and become a company under the law of the host Member State. During this procedure, legal personality is retained.
Currently, a corporation can only make an identity-preserving nationality change if there is a legal basis for doing so in the national laws of the Member States concerned or in international agreements. Additionally, due to the Cross-Border Mergers Directive, limited liability companies can effectuate the transfer by a cross-border down stream merger, i.e. the company sets up a subsidiary in the Member State to which it wants to move and then merges the existing company into this subsidiary. Finally, the transfer can be made by means of an SE, which involves conversion to an SE and a subsequent transfer according to the provisions of the SE regulation, after which the company converts back into a public limited liability company.
The Commission found that these existing alternatives reduced the need for a Directive. Furthermore, the Cartesio case, which at the time was about to be decided, was hoped to bring more clarity to the matter.
My conclusion is that the Commission should reconsider its decision not to proceed with the Directive, as the current alternatives to a cross-border transfer of registered office in many ways are not satisfactory. The Cartesio case has, in my view, only made the need for a Directive even greater, as it only deals with one particular situation and because a Directive would provide for more legal certainty. The need for a 14th Company Law Directive is not least of principal significance. If the intention of the EU is to create one single market, why not do it to the full?},
  author       = {Johnson-Stampe, Johanna},
  keyword      = {Associationsrätt,EU-rätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Need for a 14th Company Law Directive on the Transfer of Registered Office},
  year         = {2010},
}