Campaign group calls for free shareholder voting

Internet votingEuropean shareholders should be able to vote for free via the internet on any shares they hold with no discrimination between home and foreign domiciled shares, says a campaign group.

The group, Better Finance, was responding to a proposal from the European Commission to amend the shareholder rights directive, which it praised but said did not go far enough.

“In the 21st century, the cross-border voting process should be entirely digital, internet-based and open to non-bank competition as this is not a finance process,” says Better Finance.

“To this end, we believe the commission should consider using digital registers not only for shareholder identification but especially to enable EU-wide free of cost voting by EU domiciled shareholders.”

Better Finance said it was “worrisome” that the directive says nothing about the fees intermediaries charge for providing shareholder identification except that they be non-discriminatory and proportional. The group argues individuals should pay intermediaries nothing for identification.

The proposals on the directive, which were debated in Brussels on May 12, have caused concern among some companies and institutional investors, which fear they will instigate onerous disclosure requirements.

Among the more hotly debated aspects of the proposals is a plan to give shareholders a “say on pay” by giving them the right to approve corporate remuneration policies.

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