President Barroso commissioned Mario Monti to produce the report on the relaunch of the Single Market and this was published in June 2010. The European Parliament also produced its own report on the Single Market which stressed that market integration is not irreversible and the continued existence of the Single Market should not be taken for granted. Commissioner Michel Barnier had also made it clear that he sees great importance in making the Single Market relevant and beneficial to EU citizens following the financial crisis. The Commission has been working on how to respond to these varying concerns.
At the end of October it published a Communication (“Towards a Single Market Act”) setting out key proposals over the next two years which it regards as essential to ensuring the success of the single market. Many of the fifty or so proposals which it contains are focused on services and goods but some relate directly to financial services.
The key financial services proposals in the Commission’s Communications are:
- a review of the accounting directives in 2011 to simplify financial reporting obligations and to reduce administrative burdens, particularly for SMEs;
- by 2012, venture capital funds set up in any Member State should be able to operate and invest freely within the EU (if necessary by adopting a new legislative framework) and any tax treatment that disadvantages cross-border activities should be eliminated;
- an action plan on improving SME access to the capital markets, including measures to develop efficient listing and disclosure requirements, is in preparation;
- the co-ordination of national tax policies through a Directive introducing a common consolidated corporate tax base in 2011 is proposed (emphasis added);
- a re-examination of the pension funds directive is proposed in 2011 to remove obstacles to mobile workers;
- a Green Paper on corporate governance is proposed in 2011/12;
- a legislative initiative on access to certain basic banking services is proposed in early 2011, and call will be made on the banking sector to develop self-regulatory initiatives aimed at improving the transparency and comparability of bank charges by the end of 2011; and
- a directive to create a single integrated mortgage market, with a high level of consumer protection, is proposed in 2011.
The Commission will now seek formal endorsement by the European Parliament and Council of the final version of the Single Market Act after further consultation.