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A simplified business environment

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A simplified business environment

To improve competitiveness and give a boost to the economy and jobs, the European Union (EU) is looking to achieve a simplified business environment by targeting red tape in company law, accounting and auditing.

ACT

Communication from the Commission on a simplified business environment for companies in the areas of company law, accounting and auditing (COM(2007) 394 final - not published in the Official Journal).

SUMMARY

Member States need to be able to respond flexibly to the business environment, benefiting from the EU legislative framework, but without restraint on innovation and high administrative costs restricting competitiveness. The Commission is re-examining EU directives and consulting with stakeholders on ways to bring legislation in line with a leaner and more effective business environment.

Company law

There are two options: complete or partial repeal of directives, where they are irrelevant to cross-border issues. This affects the following:

Rules on single-member private limited liability companies (twelfth directive) simplifying legislation and other measures seek to give Member States a wider flexibility in mergers and divisions by:

  • simplifying directors’ responsibilities on the provision of specific financial data;
  • removing the need for general meeting approval while still protecting creditors; Directive 2006/68/EC amends legislation in this area.

The duty to publish certain information in the national gazettes in compliance with the first company law directive may be replaced by a simple registration service using the European business register (EBR), while rules on certified translation will similarly be simplified. Rules about a company’s registered office are also to be revised under the European company statute.

Accounting and auditing for SMEs

The European directives on accounting were revised in 2013 in order to limit unnecessary and disproportionate costs in the preparation of financial information. The result is a new accounting Directive 2013/34/EU, to be implemented by mid-2015, which introduces criteria for defining micro, small, medium-sized and large businesses, and reduces the amount of information to be provided by micro and small undertakings to satisfy requirements.

Background

Initiated by the Commission in 2006, the updated simplification programme, and its action programme, following the European Council of 8 and 9 March 2007 identified company law, accounting and auditing as three priority areas.

RELATED ACTS

Synthesis of the reactions received to the Commission communication on a simplified business environment in the areas of company law, accounting and auditing (COM(2007) 394) (pdf). The Council asked the Commission to examine the reactions to the communication and, if necessary, to submit new proposals. There would appear to be a clear preference for the solution involving simplifying existing legislation (second option proposed by the Commission in its communication).

Last updated: 03.06.2014

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