Corporate governance on the agenda this WEEK
By Benjamin Fox
New legislation on the rights of shareholders and corporate governance is set to top the agenda of a quiet week for the EU's institutions.
On Wednesday (9 April) the European Commission will table plans to re-write the bloc's legislation on shareholder rights in a bid to increase the engagement of shareholders in corporate decision-making and improve transparency.
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The EU executive will also unveil plans to make it easier to set up companies with a single shareholder across the EU, together with proposals to improve corporate governance reporting by listed companies.
The EU executive will also release new rules governing state aid for energy and environmental projects on Wednesday.
There are no ministerial meetings in Brussels this week, while MEPs will also enjoy a light work-load in the last week before the European Parliament’s final plenary session in Strasbourg ahead of May elections.
There may be a note of controversy when deputies on the parliament's culture committee vote on new rules governing the return of cultural objects taken illegally from EU countries. The commission estimates that about 8,000 crimes against national heritage are committed and some 40,000 cultural objects are illegally removed each year in the EU.
However, the rules will only apply to cultural artefacts that have been liberated from their natural home since 1993.
On Monday, the parliament's economic affairs committee will quiz European Central Bank vice-President, Vitor Constancio, on the bank's activities in 2013.
The parliament will also hold a public hearing next week on the latest European Citizen’s Initiative, the One of Us campaign. The initiative calls on the EU to end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health, and already has the support of more than 1.8 million Europeans from more than 20 countries.
For his part, European Parliament boss (and commission President hopeful) Martin Schulz will visit the recently-elected government of the Czech Republic on Thursday.
The recent election of Bohuslav Sobotka's government seems to have heralded warmer relations between Prague and Brussels.
Sobotka's centre-left government has dropped its opposition to the German-inspired fiscal compact treaty agreed by 25 of the EU's then 27 members in 2011, and has indicated a willingness to set a date for its entry to the eurozone.