EBR History

EBR started as a technical cooperation between business registers in 1992.  Its origin can be found in the provisions of the First Company Law Directive that defines a mandatory list of information that every Member State must register about their companies (Article 2).  From its inception EBR has acted in support of business registers, in promoting business transparency, and the European Commission, in advancing the objectives of the single market.  The funding of the network is provided by the annual membership fee of the partners.

In 1992, France, Italy, Denmark and the United Kingdom supported the Commission project whose aim was to ensure easy and multilingual access to, at least, a standard set of official company data stored in the business registers of the countries concerned. In our first EBR project in 1994 we supported DG XIII in the European Nervous System Programme (ENS). The pilot project demonstrated the feasibility of an Internet connection between registers.

In 1996-1998 we worked with the DG XIII, Telematics Application Programme by putting in place phase II of the EBR concept development. At the end of the project, we launched the first service on the market, providing access to 12 registers: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

In 2001-2003 we enhanced the IT platform in a third project (European Business Register – Open Network; EBR-ON) in support of the IST Programme. The project eased the integration of new partners and the created of a common user interface to help the launch of the service to the market.

Migration from the old to the new platform and the launch of a new EBR service took place during the summer of 2004 with 14 providers: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

Cooperation between the participating registers was based on an Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) in which the contracting parties undertook the duty to give each other access to information stored in the business registers. Gradually, other countries joined the cooperation. In 1998 EBR incorporated as a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG).

The adoption of the 2003 amendment of the First Company Law Directive promoted the future use of EBR since it made it mandatory for Member States to set up electronic business registers by 1 January 2007. The completion of the electronic databases opened the possibility for EBR to extend its services to other Member States of the EU.

EBR took a leadership role in the field of interconnection of business registers. We led the BRITE project (Business Registers Interoperability Throughout Europe) for the integration of services such as: the branch disclosure service, the transfer of seat and a central company names index. Arising from that project the EU brought forward a directive to give effect to the principle recommendations and EBR itself upgraded its platform once again.

In 2011/12 EBR participated in the BOWNET project which explored the needs of law enforcement agencies and others in determining the owners of companies. In 2014/15 we coordinated the EBOCS project which established systems to assist law enforcement agencies to access and map business ownership. Having rated the outcome of that project as excellent the Commission requested us to extend it into 2017/18.

Today the EBR network is formed by 25 business registers, 20 of which are members to the European Union.