“ the Gold share “ divides Europethe European Union has condemned France and Portugal
on June, 4th the European court has satisfied the claim of the European Union against France and Portugal, recognising conditions on which the governments of these countries own “ gold shares “ some enterprises, contradicting European Union rules of law. Similar verdicts can be taken out and concerning other European states: the Eurocommission considers that practice “ a gold share “ complicates process of integration of the European states.
the court has considered three claims of Eurocommission: besides France and Portugal it had claims to Belgium, but in actions of this country of the judge of infringements have not seen. All three complaints concerned uses so-called “ a gold share “: reserving at privatisation “ a gold share “ the companies, the state acquires the right under certain conditions to block its any actions. Usually the states aspire to reserve “ gold shares “ the defensive and raw enterprises, and also the largest companies which activity influences national economy (see the table). Thus they want to secure themselves on a case social, financial or political crises.
however the Eurocommission considers that practice “ a gold share “ disturbs to process of economic integration of the European countries. The matter is that in certain cases conditions on which this or that government owns “ gold shares “ contradict the European legislation, interfering with the free reference of capitals in the European Union. Last year at the initiative of Eurocommission the EuroParliament already discussed a question on an interdiction “ gold shares “ but under the influence of lobbyists of the national governments and has not taken out any decision. Then the Eurocommission has achieved consideration in the European court of norms of the privatisation accepted in Portugal, France and Belgium. Conditions at which the state carries out the veto, in the different countries differ that has given the chance to Eurocommission to struggle with “ gold shares “ in the separate states.
in Portugal in 1990 the law on privatisation and investments has been passed. This document substantially complicated, and sometimes and simply interfered with foreign investments into bank, insurance, transport and power spheres. According to it it were given to the government “ gold shares “ at privatisation of the companies of the specified branches. The role the law has played, for example, in 2000 when the largest Portuguese power company Electricidade de Portugal was privatised. Together with 18,5 % of actions EdP to the country Ministry of Finance has been given and “ a gold share “ Giving the veto on all operations of the company, as became a basis of the claim of Eurocommission.
having considered circumstances of cases, the European court has taken out the decision “ to recognise the norms operating in Portugal, inappropriate to article 73 (56) of the European treatise “. It is a question of one of basic documents of the European Union - the Roman contract concluded in 1957 and confirmed in a new wording in 1997 in Amsterdam. Article 73 (56) says: “ It is forbidden to interfere with the free reference of the capital between union member countries, including direct investments in the enterprises, financial institutions and objects of real estate “. The court recognised actions of Portugal unmotivated, and now it should change regulations of privatisation of the enterprises, having facilitated access to them to foreigners.
Eurocommission Claims to France have been connected with privatisation of one, but very considerable both for France, and for the international economy of the company - power giant Elf - Aquitaine. One of the world`s largest companies, which market capitalisation makes now $48,8 mlrd, has ceased to be state in 1993. However, having reserved “ a gold share “ the state has exposed variety of conditions. In particular, three thresholds in 10, 20 and 30 % on which excess the investor should obtain the special permit at the French Minister of Economics have been appointed. Besides, restrictions on purchase of share holdings of branches Elf - Aquitaine have been entered: Elf - Gabon, Elf - Aquitaine Production, Elf - Antar France and Elf - Congo. The European court recognised existing regulations too strict and has obliged France to change it. Outwardly the authorities of the country in the name of Minister of Economics Fransisa the Measure (Francis Mer) have reacted to a judgement easy, having declared that will obey to it. However analysts have already expressed doubts that it will occur: it will be difficult to government to refuse from “ a gold share “ in such influential company.
dispute between Eurocommission and Belgium concerned privatisation of gas company Distringaz and the giant of management of natural resources and realisation of utilities Societe nationale de transport par canalisations (SNTC). Both companies have been privatised in 1994, and in both cases the state in the name of the municipal services ministry received “ a gold share “. However, according to the Belgian regulations, the government can interfere with a policy of the companies only in case power and municipal branches will be recognised by being in crisis conditions. And as such crises in Belgium was not, the companies since the privatisation operated independently. It also has turned an outcome of judicial session: the court has not seen in conditions of privatisation Distringaz and SNTC infringement of the European norms.
results of session of the European court reflect opposition which has distinctly outlined in Europe between Eurocommission, on the one hand, and the separate states, trying to keep control over key spheres of the economy - with another. On June, 3rd the European minister of home market and the taxation of Frits Bolkestajn (Frits Bolkestein) has declared: “ If we will be supported by the European court, we will advance at full speed the further development of merges in economy “. So, conflicts of the separate European states to the all-European institutes will proceed. Analysts, in particular, speak about Great Britain and Spain. And in France are afraid of complications at the future privatisation of electric giant Electricite de France (EDF) as the government will try to keep control over the company.
FEODOR - KOTRELEV, ELENA - CHINJAEVA