Share Option Schemes Targeted By EU Proposals

Author:Mr Nicholas Prag

Share option schemes could be affected by future EU legislation to make it easier for companies to operate such systems throughout the single market. Changes are needed to deal with tax and legal obstacles that prevent the growth of share schemes, according to a European Commission working paper published on 2 August.

The report identifies three types of cross-border barriers to arrangements for 'financial participation' by employees, covering profit-sharing and employee share schemes as well as share options. These are differences between EU countries in tax rules, social security contributions, and social and cultural approaches.

The Commission proposes to address the questions of tax regimes and social security contributions, arguing that financial participation schemes help to boost productivity and competitiveness. At the same time, the differences across the EU "are beginning to weigh more heavily on companies operating in the single market. It would obviously be more logical and easier for such companies to set up one and the same financial participation scheme for all the subsidiaries in the group, with a few national adjustments," the paper says.

Designing separate schemes to suit different Member States' systems has two disadvantages, the Commission concludes...

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