EUROPE – EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy today reiterated his belief that the “shareholder is king” and encouraged greater internal competitiveness.

McCreevy was speaking at the European Corporate Governance conference in London which was organised by Hermes.

McCreevy said the short-term priorities of the first Company Law Action Plan - based on enhancing transparency and empowering shareholders - were largely successfully implemented.

However, now the time was right for reflection on what should be done in the second phase.

“We need more entrepreneurs and we need to make it easier to set up, and to wind up business. Let’s face the facts. How easy is it to do business in the EU. Comparatively, not very,” stated McCreevy.

He added that only two EU member states figure in the world’s top ten countries and eleven in the top thirty.

“This is simply not good enough,” he said.

However, he warned that the EU should not shoot companies and member states in the foot as they try to get out of the starting block.

Better regulation and priorities conducive to entrepreneurship were pegged as key factors to address in the Plan.

According to McCreevy, better regulation means, amongst others, consultation with stakeholders, only legislating where absolutely necessary and a comprehensive impact assessment for any new legislation.

“Company law must be accessible and comprehensible,” he said.

This includes the simplification, modernization and consolidation of the company law directives, and the “elimination of any dead wood”.

“For me, the shareholder is king or queen,” said McCreevy. He linked this to the principles of transparency and shareholder empowerment – essential for better-run companies.

“Our European companies need and deserve a modern and flexible company law framework. We must give it our best shot because they deserve no less.”