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JUNE 2017


Except in France, all recent policy developments in Europe pave the way towards higher incentives for employee ownership. Norway doubled fiscal incentives on 1.1.2017. Poland prepares dedicated legislation. Ireland announces a new share incentive scheme for SMEs to be introduced in 2018, as well as The Netherlands with a favorable tax treatment of stock options for employees of innovative start-ups. These new developments confirm the positive trend observed since 2013.

On the other hand, hesitation dominated in France, where the outgoing government suppressed in 2017 the positive provisions introduced by the Macron Law eighteen months earlier. This explains the relapse of the barometer in 2017.

The negative political decisions of France since 2009 unfortunately influence the performance of the whole of Europe.

In France, they are at the origin of the heavy fall in the rate of democratization of employee ownership, the number of employee shareholders being reduced to three million compared with four million with unchanged policy.


After increasing continuously since 1980, the number of employee shareholders in Europe was slightly declining from 2011, before stabilizing in 2015 (See Annual Economic Survey of Employee Share Ownership in European Countries in 2016).

This was partly due to the impact of the European financial crisis that erupted in 2008. However, the impact of the policy decisions taken in European countries was probably the most important factor in this change.

It is known that the mass development of employee share ownership depends mainly on incentive policies (See Fiscal incentives are indispensable prerequisites for the development of employee share ownership, EFES, 2014). The mass development of employee share ownership brings better motivation, productivity, profitability, higher growth, more and better jobs. This is good for all. But it depends on policy will to initiate the virtuous circle through appropriate fiscal incentives.

A recent study showed that the balance of fiscal costs and benefits of the ESOP policy for the US federal budget in 2015 was 2 billion $ compared to 17, a gain of 15 billion $ (See The Impact of Employee Ownership and ESOPs on Layoffs and the Costs of Unemployment to the Federal Government, NCEO, 2015).

After 2008, some European countries took negative decisions, removing or decreasing fiscal incentives, which led to a decline of the number of employee shareholders. Some other European countries took the opposite way, applying new or higher incentives, which led to a higher number of employee shareholders.

In 2009-2012, France and Ireland reduced their fiscal incentives, as well as Denmark, Greece and The Netherlands, where all incentives were removed. In contrast, significant policy progress occurred in the UK in 2014-2016, as well as in Spain, in Hungary, in Austria (which doubled its fiscal support on 1.1.2016), and in Romania and Iceland.

In addition Denmark restored in July 2016 the incentives that were removed in 2011. This is typical of the recent changes in European policies: One of the first deeds of the new Danish Government in 2011 (Ms Thorning-Schmidt, socialist) was to remove all incentives. One of the first deeds of the new Danish Government in 2016 (Lars Rasmussen, conservative-liberal) was to restore them.

More recently, Norway doubled its fiscal support on 1.1.2017.

Finally, Vice-Prime Minister Morawiecki announced a long-term plan in five points for the development of Poland, including employee share ownership, and a new Polish "Forum for Employee Ownership and Domestic Capital Development" was set up in April 2016.

All these policy decisions in various European countries, in a positive or a negative way, can be summarized through a single dedicated tool. This is the reason of the setting up of the EFES "Barometer of employee share ownership policies in European countries".






For information and contact
Avenue Voltaire 135, B-1030 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 242 64 30 - Fax: +32 (0)2 808 30 33
E-mail: efes@efesonline.org
Web site: www.efesonline.org
EFES' objective is to act as the umbrella organization of employee owners, companies and all persons, trade unions, experts, researchers, institutions looking to promote employee share ownership and participation in Europe.

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