[an error occurred while processing this directive] BBC World Service | Learning English | News English - Words in the News
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

You are in: Home > General & Business English
Words in the News
Friday 28 November 2003
EU takeovers
European Commission European Union governments have agreed a common set of rules to make it easier for businesses in one country to buy or merge with rivals in another. The terms of final compromise were bitterly opposed by officials from the European Commission, which wanted to see fewer restrictions on European cross border takeovers. This report from Mark Gregory:
Listen Listen to the story
Earlier this week EU governments voted to bend the rules of the stability pact so that France and Germany wouldn't be penalised for breaking the rules on budget deficits. Now they've defied the wishes of the European Commission on another key aspect of economic policy.

After years of wrangling, EU industry ministers have approved a compromise framework for cross border mergers and takeovers that leaves many of the defences businesses use to avoid being bought out by rivals still in place.

It's a personal defeat for the EU's internal market commissioner Fritz Bolkestein who'd wanted a much tougher framework to promote economic efficiency through promoting cross border corporate deals. At an earlier stage Mr Bolkestein described the terms of final compromise as not worth the paper they were written on. Opposition to his plans was strong in Germany, where the prospect of national corporate icons like Volkswagen being gobbled up by foreign rivals caused consternation.

The watered down compromise that has been agreed leaves corporate defences such as multiple voting rights for some shares and limits on the rights of other shares in place. It could escalate trade tensions with the United States which sees barriers to the ability of American firms to buy out the competition as a form of unfair protectionism.

Listen Listen to the words
bend the rules
if you bend the rules you interpret them in a way that allows you to do something they really forbid
stability pact
an agreement that forbids countries which use the Euro to have large budget deficits
key aspect
a very important part of a policy - one which characterises it
arguing about something which is difficult to settle
compromise framework
a set of rules that help you decide how to behave in a situation where parties have differtent interests. Here - with everyone getting less than they had wanted
cross border mergers and takeovers
when firms from different countries join together, or one gains control of another
not worth the paper they were written on
completely useless
gobbled up
here - quickly taken over. Literally, if someone gobbles food they eat it very quickly and greedily
watered down
made less forceful
escalate trade tensions
increase the sense of fear and nervousness about trade
blue arrow Read more about this story
Link to Chinese English language teaching pagesLink to Arabic English language teaching pagesLink to Russian English language teaching pagesLink to Spanish English language teaching pages
A space gif
A grey bar A grey bar A grey bar