The European Private Company (SPE): Uniformity, Flexibility, Competition and the Persistence of National Laws

38 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2010

See all articles by Paul L. Davies

Paul L. Davies

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: May 1, 2010


In 2008 the European Commission put forward proposals for a European Private Company (SPE), following up on the adoption of the European Public Company legislation of 2001. Although speedy adoption of the SPE proposals was initially hoped for, subsequent negotiations among the member states have stalled, despite at least two revised drafts of the proposals having been produced by the Presidency of the European Council. This article seeks to identify the challenges posed to the national company laws of the member states by the Commission’s proposals for a ‘simple and flexible’ Community form of incorporation. It seeks to argue that the discussions among the member states have revolved mainly around the question of the appropriate role for mandatory rules in modern company law. Member states have been reluctant to see the SPE freed from mandatory rules to which their national companies are subject, because of the competition to their national laws which the SPE would generate. On the other hand, member states with few mandatory rules in their domestic law have been reluctant to see the SPE burdened with mandatory rules which do not apply to domestic companies, because otherwise their businesses will be deterred from taking up the new European form and obtaining its advantages. The article predicts that, of the possible legislative solutions to this conflict, referring more of the rules applicable to the SPE to the national law of the state in which the SPE is registered is likely to be the dominant one, even though this will undermine both the uniformity and flexibility goals of the proposed legislation. It also considers how effective the ‘national law’ strategy is likely to be in the light of the Treaty provisions on freedom of establishment.

Keywords: European Private Company (SPE), European Community Forms of Incorporation, Regulatory Competition, Freedom of Association

JEL Classification: G38, K22

Suggested Citation

Davies, Paul L., The European Private Company (SPE): Uniformity, Flexibility, Competition and the Persistence of National Laws (May 1, 2010). Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11/2011, ECGI - Law Working Paper No. 154/2010, Available at SSRN: or

Paul L. Davies (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

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