ARTICLE 19 joined a broad coalition of 182 civil society organisations, including journalists, academics and individuals, calling on the European Commission to ensure transparency of company ownership in the EU. This joint petition was submitted to the European Commission’s public consultation to improve the draft Implementing Regulation for the Open Data Directive. ARTICLE 19 has also responded to the public consultation with an individual submission.
As it stands, the draft Implementing Regulation proposes the publication of only basic company information and company documents, without the names of company legal owners, legal representatives, and beneficial owners. The petition highlights the importance of open company registers and argues that without company ownership information, civil society organisations (CSOs) and journalists would not have access to the data they need to properly investigate corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. Moreover, small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs would not be able to carry out proper due diligence on potential partners.
21 June 2022
We are concerned about the proposed draft Implementing Regulation for the Open Data Directive, with respect to the high value dataset of Companies and Company Ownership.
The draft Implementing Regulation calls for the publication of only basic company information and company documents, without the names of company legal owners, legal representatives, and beneficial owners.
Publishing company ownership data without these names would essentially render this dataset ineffective: CSOs and journalists would not have access to the data they need to properly investigate corruption, money laundering and tax evasion, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs would not be able to carry out proper due diligence on potential partners.
It is inappropriate that only those with the resources to pay for this data are able to obtain it in most EU Member States. In countries that do provide full access to this data for free, this has only been beneficial for users with no negative consequences.
We believe in the importance of open company data, as it brings multiple quantitative and qualitative social and economic benefits to society:
We call on the Commission to act on the promise of the Open Data Directive and to include in the proposed Implementing Regulation a requirement to open up the following information free of charge. Note that the data marked * is already in the Commission’s draft Implementing Regulation; the rest is what the public needs for us to speak of genuinely open company registers:
Documents and Accounts
Furthermore, we call for:
If the Commission truly wants to create a European Union that is hostile to money-laundering, corruption, and tax evasion, it should expand the Implementing Regulation to include company ownership information.
For a full list of signatories please see the link below.