The proposal was formally tabled six years ago and has been the centre of intense debate, leading to what was supposed to be a final compromise, struck between the parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, meeting in a conciliation committee.
However, MEPs this week refused to accept the final draft by one vote. This means the proposed directive has been rejected and would have to be proposed again by the Commission, if it were to be resurrected.
The parliament was particularly unhappy about the lack of protection offered to companies subject to hostile bids; the text insisted a board could only take defensive action after consulting shareholders.
Internal market Commissioner Fritz Bolkestein, said: ‘This vote marks a large step backwards in the realisation of the goals of completing the integration of the European single market and making the EU’s economy the most competitive in the world by 2010.’
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