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The Internal Market Council held in Brussels on March 16 once again failed to adopt the long-stalled proposal for the 13th Company Law Directive, which lays down Community rules for takeover bids - designed principally to protect minority shareholders in the event of a takeover bid on a listed company. The British and Spanish Governments are still trying to resolve the disputed issue of how the legislation could be implemented in Gibraltar as the row over competence - and the talks on sovereignty - continue. According to the Spanish Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ramon de Miguel, however, both sides are only "days or weeks away from a settlement" as the negotiations have been linked UK's application to be part of the Schengen Agreement (see separate article in this Section). UK Minister for Industry and Competitiveness Helen Liddell said she hoped that they had now "reached the endgame". German Secretary of State for Economy, Axel Gerlach, was also optimistic and said he was "convinced that an agreement could be secured at the next (Internal Market) Council of Ministers" on May 25. This optimism was echoed by Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein, who nevertheless said he regretted that qualified majority voting had not been used sooner to solve the problem.A political agreement on the proposal, with the...

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