Integration of Financial Markets
Streamlining the Financial Sector

Integration of Financial Markets

On October 27 2003 the European Commission announced the launch of an in-depth assessment of the state of integration of European financial markets. This initiative begins as the five-year legislative phase of the Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP) comes to an end.

Four new expert groups have been set up to help the commission outline key issues for discussion. These groups will consist of specialists in the banking, insurance, asset management and securities trading fields.

The main stages of the consultation process are as follows:

  • November 2003 - the four expert groups convene to assist the commission in outlining the state of integration for the key types of financial institutions and products (banking, insurance, asset management and investment intermediation).

  • November 2003 - the commission presents its ninth progress report on the FSAP.

  • Spring 2004 - the commission will publish its report on “tracking financial integration”, which will provide some empirical data to set the scene for the policy discussions.

  • Summer 2004 - a conference will be held following the publication of reports from the four expert groups.

  • Autumn 2004 - the commission will publish a document summarizing the views and analysis put forward during the consultation process.

The ninth FSAP progress report was published on November 21 2003.

Streamlining the Financial Sector

On November 6 2003 the European Commission launched a package of seven measures with the aim of enabling the European Union to respond more quickly to developments in the financial sector. The measures would create a modern and streamlined decision-making structure for financial services with the aim of improved regulatory and supervisory cooperation. The package aims to extend the committee structure that has been used in the securities sector since 2002 to banking, insurance and investment funds.

The package comprises the following:

  • two commission decisions setting up the European Banking Committee and European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Committee to act in an advisory capacity;

  • two commission decisions amending the 2001 decisions establishing the European Securities Commission (ESC) and Committee of European Securities Regulators to include banking, insurance and investment funds;

  • a proposed directive replacing references to existing committees in current financial legislation with references to the new European Banking Committee, European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Committee and the (existing) ESC; and

  • two commission decisions establishing the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS) with effect from January 1 2004 and the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors with effect from November 24 2003.

This package is essential if the FSAP is to be delivered by the 2005 deadline which was set by the 2000 Lisbon European Council. The legislative ambitions of the FSAP have been undermined by inconsistent implementation across member states; the commission argues that this issue must be tackled in order to reach the goal of an integrated European financial market.

For further information on this topic please contact Philip Woolfson at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly by telephone (+32 2 626 0500) or by fax (+32 2 626 0510) or by email ([email protected]).