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Internal market: Norwegian restrictions on stock exchange ownership in breach of EEA law

15.12.2010

PR(10)70 - English version

Norway is in breach of the EEA Agreement by maintaining in force restrictions on ownership and voting rights in financial services infrastructure institutions. This was declared today in a reasoned opinion, a final warning, delivered by the EFTA Surveillance Authority.

The Authority agrees with the Norwegian Government that restrictions to ensure the good functioning of the financial system may be justified. However, in the Authority's view, the ownership and voting restrictions in question are unnecessarily restrictive and disproportionate to the aim.

The Norwegian Act on Regulated Markets[1] and the Act on Registration of Financial Instruments[2] provide for a general ban of ownership above 20 percent of the shares in stock exchanges and securities depositories, with very limited exemptions. Furthermore, the Acts restrict voting rights to 20 percent of the total votes or 30 percent of the votes represented at a shareholders' meeting.  

In the Authority's view, these rules restrict the possibility to invest in these undertakings and to participate effectively in their management. Therefore, the rules are incompatible with the EEA rules on free movement of capital and the freedom of establishment.

The purpose of a reasoned opinion is to give the State in question a last chance to take corrective measures before the Authority decides whether to bring the matter before the EFTA Court. The Norwegian Government is requested to take the necessary measures to comply with the reasoned opinion within two months.  

 

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Trygve Mellvang-Berg,
Press and Information Officer
Tel.: (+32)(0) 2 286 18 66
Mob.: (+32)(0) 492 900 187

 or

Ms. Rakel Jensdóttir,
Officer, Internal Market Affairs Directorate
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 826



[1] Lov 29. juni 2007 nr. 74 om regulerte markeder

[2] Lov 5. juli 2002 nr. 64 om registrering av finansielle instrumenter




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