The general meeting is the cornerstone of shareholder democracy. It is not only where voting on major company decisions takes place, but also the only place where private shareholders can engage with board members and their fellow shareholders. As shown in last year’s report, the Corona pandemic badly affected shareholder rights and engagement in the European Union, especially in a cross-border context. This is contrary to the declared aim of the EU’s Capital Markets Union initiative.
In 2020, together with DSW, BETTER FINANCE investigated how selected EU Member States reacted to the corona pandemic with regard to the general meetings of listed companies and how the measures taken in each case have been perceived by shareholders and their representative organisations.
In 2021 - the first full season with the new SRD II (Shareholders Rights Directive) rules in effect - BETTER FINANCE and DSW delved deeper into the issue to identify whether intermediaries are SRD II-ready and find out whether shareholders were able to fully exercise their rights by participating in, and voting at, general meetings. The results of the research project are devastating, with most individual shareholders unable to fully exercise their fundamental rights at general meetings abroad.