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Guides on the EU policy on Finance.
Commission proposal for a Regulation on indices used as benchmarks in financial instruments and financial contracts
The Commission has proposed draft legislation to help restore confidence in the integrity of benchmarks. A benchmark is an index (statistical measure), calculated from a representative set of underlying data, that is used as a reference price for a financial instrument or financial contract or to measure the performance of an investment fund. The new rules will enhance the robustness and reliability of benchmarks, facilitate the prevention and detection of their manipulation and clarify responsibility for and the supervision of benchmarks by the authorities. The manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR) resulted in multi-million euro fines on several banks in Europe and the US, and allegations of manipulation of commodity (e.g. oil, gas and biofuel) and exchange-rate benchmarks are also under investigation. The prices of financial instruments worth trillions of euro depend on benchmarks, and millions of residential mortgages are also linked to them. As a result, benchmark manipulation can cause significant losses to consumers and investors, distort the real economy, and undermine market confidence.
Proposed new rules for money market funds (MMFs)
The Commission has today adopted a communication on shadow banking and also proposed new rules for money market funds (MMFs). These aim to ensure that MMFs can better withstand redemption pressure in stressed market conditions by enhancing their liquidity profile and stability.
Customs action to tackle IPR infringing goods
EU Customs detained almost 40 million products suspected of violating intellectual property rights (IPR) in 2012, according to the Commission's annual report on customs actions to enforce IPR. Although this is less than the 2011 figure, the value of the intercepted goods is still high, at nearly €1 billion. Today’s report also gives statistics on the type, provenance and transport method of counterfeit products detained at the EU's external borders. Cigarettes accounted for a large number of interceptions (31%), miscellaneous goods (e.g. bottles, lamps, glue, batteries, washing powder) were the next largest category (12%), followed by packaging materials (10%). Postal and courier packages accounted for around 70% of customs interventions in 2012, with 23% of the detentions in postal traffic concerning medicines.
Payment Services Directive and Interchange fees Regulation
In order to adapt EU payments market to the opportunities of the single market and to support the growth of the EU economy, the European Commission adopted a package including: A new payment Services Directive ("PSD2"); and a proposal for regulation on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions.
Protection of EU financial interests and the fight against fraud
Fraud affecting the EU budget increased slightly in 2012 compared to 2011, according to the European Commission's annual report on the "Protection of the EU's Financial Interests". On the expenditure side, in total, €315 million in EU funds were affected by fraud, or 0.25% of the expenditure budget. This compares to €295 million the previous year. The reason for this increase lies almost entirely with two cases of fraud in pre-accession funds, involving large sums. On the revenue side of the budget, suspected or confirmed fraud amounted to €77.6 million, representing 0.42% of the total traditional own resources collected for 2012. This compares to €109 million the previous year.
European Public Prosecutor's Office
The European Commission is taking action to improve Union-wide prosecution of criminals who defraud EU taxpayers by establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office. Its exclusive task will be to investigate and prosecute and, where relevant, bring to judgement – in the Member States' courts - crimes affecting the EU budget. The European Public Prosecutor's Office will be an independent institution, subject to democratic oversight.
Blue belt: customs formalities eased for ships
The European Commission on 8 July set out plans to ease custom formalities for ships – reducing red tape, cutting delays in ports and making the sector more competitive. Freight forwarders and exporters currently complain that if they chose to send goods across Europe by short sea shipping, the heavy administrative burden at ports causes additional costs and significant delays - ships can wait for hours and sometimes days in ports for customs clearance. These make the maritime sector less attractive compared to other forms of transport, especially road, unnecessarily bringing more trucks on our already congested roads. With the new Commission proposals, it is hoped that shipping transport will face less administrative hurdles and therefore be able to be used to its full potential in the EU internal market and beyond.
E-invoicing in public procurement
The European Commission has today proposed a draft directive on e-invoicing in public procurement, accompanied by a communication setting out its vision for the full digitisation of the public procurement process, so-called 'end-to-end e-procurement'. E-invoicing is an important step towards paperless public administration (e-government) in Europe – one of the priorities of the Digital Agenda - and offers the potential for significant economic as well as environmental benefits. The Commission estimates that the adoption of e-invoicing in public procurement across the EU could generate savings of up to €2.3 billion.
Regional Aid Guidelines for 2014-2020
The European Commission has adopted guidelines on how Member States can grant investment aid to companies in order to support the development of disadvantaged regions in Europe between 2014 and 2020. These guidelines are part of a broader strategy to modernise state aid control, which aims at fostering growth in the Single Market by encouraging more effective aid measures and focusing the Commission's enforcement on cases with the biggest impact on competition. The guidelines will enter into force on 1 July 2014.
Credit rating agencies - new EU rules enter into force
As of 20 June 2013, credit rating agencies (CRAs) have to follow stricter rules which will make them more accountable for their actions. The new rules also aim to reduce over-reliance on credit ratings while at the same time improving the quality of the rating process. Credit rating agencies will have to be more transparent when rating sovereign states.
Financial reporting obligations for limited liability companies (Accounting Directive)
The European Parliament on 12 June voted in new Accounting and Transparency Directives, a modernisation of financial reporting obligations, which should see costs reduced, in particular for SMEs.
Excessive Deficit Procedure 2013
As part of the package of country-specific recommendations 2013 published on 29 May, the European Commission has also adopted a number of decisions under the Excessive Deficit Procedure, reflecting the latest developments in Member States that are expected to bring their government deficit to below the EU's 3% of GDP threshold. The Commission has today recommended that the Council abrogate the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) for five countries: Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. The Commission has also recommended that the Council open an EDP for Malta. Moreover, the Commission has adopted Recommendations to the Council with a view to extend the deadlines for correcting the excessive deficit in six countries: Spain, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia. In addition, the Commission has recommended that the Council decides that no effective action has been taken by Belgium to put an end to the excessive deficit and that the Council gives notice to Belgium to take measures to correct the excessive deficit.
Country-specific recommendations 2013
The European Commission has adopted recommendations to EU Member States designed to move Europe beyond the crisis and strengthen the foundations for growth. These recommendations are based on detailed analyses of each country's situation and provide guidance to governments on how to boost their growth potential, increase competitiveness and create jobs in 2013-2014. Taken together, they represent an ambitious set of reforms for the EU economy. As part of the package, which marks the culmination of the third European Semester of policy coordination, the Commission has also adopted several decisions under the Excessive Deficit Procedure.
Negotiations for an investment agreement with China
The European Commission decided today to ask the EU Member States for their agreement on a mandate to open negotiations on an investment agreement with China. This is the first ever proposal for a stand-alone investment agreement since foreign direct investment became the exclusive competence of the EU under the Lisbon Treaty.
OLAF Report 2012
The thirteenth European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) Report, published 23 May, presents OLAF's activities in 2012.
Access to finance for SMEs
A joint European Commission - European Investment Bank Group report on the activities facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2012 was presented at a meeting of the SME Finance Forum, on the eve of an Informal Competitiveness Council on 2 and 3 May in Dublin. European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Enterprise and Industrial policy, also launched a new single online portal for all EU financial instruments for SMEs as well a web-based information guide for SME stock listings, to promote SME listings and stimulate investors’ interest in SMEs and mid-caps.
Agreement in trilogue on the Mortgages Directive
Property buyers will be better informed about the costs and consequences of taking on a mortgage, better protected from market swings while the contract lasts and better protected if they cannot repay the loan, under a provisional deal struck by Euro-MPs from the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and EU member state representatives on 22 April 2013. To become law, this deal must be approved by Parliament as a whole and endorsed by the member states.
Disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies and groups (proposal to amend Accounting Directives)
The European Commission has proposed an amendment to existing accounting legislation in order to improve the transparency of certain large companies on social and environmental matters. Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on the boards of directors.
Simpler accounting requirements for small companies
The European Parliament and Council of the EU have agreed new, simpler accounting requirements for the preparation of financial information. It is hoped this will result in a reduction in the administrative burden for small companies (SMEs).
Disclosure requirements for the extractive industry and loggers of primary forests
EU Parliament and Council legislators have agreed a deal on the disclosure requirements for the extractive and forestry industries. The anti-corruption deal aims to force big mining companies to make public the payments they make to governments where they operate.