Date: 10 May 2013

Importance of core values of ethics, integrity and accountability in the European corporate governance codes

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Abstract

This paper examines the importance attached to core values of ethics, integrity and accountability in the European codes and regulations of corporate governance. The study raises the following critical question: does a gap exist between what the public expects or needs and what institutional and regulatory bodies have underlined in the codes and regulations of corporate governance? The present study aims to analyze the recent laws, regulations and codes of corporate governance introduced by the European Commission and in five major European countries (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) before and after 2002. The major objective is to examine the extent to which the European codes and regulations, particularly those issued after 2002 and 2007, have considered several important topics such as ethics and corporate behavior, shareholder rights, and board accountability. The analyses show that there are severe shortcomings in the European corporate governance codes regarding the importance given to ethical values, integrity of management, and accountability mechanisms.