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Reading the Company Law Action Plan of the European Commission (issued on 21 May 2003) it is impossible not to gain the impression that European company law policy is focused on listed companies, and that their efficiency will be enhanced, if possible, by means of state competition, and only out of necessity by means of harmonisation. The same is true of the new Action Plan on European company law and corporate governance (issued on 12 December 2012).
This book adopts a different approach, based first of all on the fact that throughout Europe only a small number of corporations are listed at all – the reality of corporate law is dominated by small and medium-size enterprises. Therefore legal standards pertaining to control transactions or investor protection and other topics of capital market law are not part of the core principles of corporate law. The question is not how to protect best the interests of shareholders but rather the interests of all parties affected by a firm's activities, including its creditors and third parties. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union reminds us not to forget that, especially when drawing the attention of the legislator to directives safeguarding “the protection of the interests of members and others” (art. 50).
This book focuses on the perspective of key jurisdictions in continental Europe, such as (in an alphabetical order) Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, while also analysing seminal developments in the Netherlands, Portugal, and the Scandinavian countries.