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Guides on the EU policy on Finance.
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.
Green paper on long-term financing of the European economy
The European Commission has adopted a Green Paper that launches a three-month public consultation on how to foster the supply of long-term financing and how to improve and diversify the system of financial intermediation for long-term investment in Europe. Long-term investment represents spending that enhances the productive capacity of the economy. This can include energy, transport and communication infrastructures, industrial and service facilities, climate change and eco-innovation technologies, as well as education and research and development. Europe faces large-scale long-term investment needs, which are crucial to support sustainable growth. To fund long-term investment, governments, businesses and households need access to predictable long term financing.
Next steps towards a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union
The European Commission has presented two new Communications on the next steps towards a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The aim is to strengthen economic policy coordination and integration in the euro area. The Commission says these Communications follow commitments made in its 'Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union' last November, and respond to calls from the European Council to take work forward on these two fronts. The Communication on the ex-ante coordination of plans for major economic policy reforms contains options on how to organise EU-level discussions on large-scale economic policy reforms in the Member States before final decisions are taken at national level. The reasoning behind this is to properly take into account any positive or negative spillovers of the reforms on other euro area countries early on in the decision-making process. The Communication on a Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument (CCI) sets out options for two instruments: contractual arrangements for Member States to undertake specific reforms and financial support to help Member States implement these reforms. These two new instruments complement the structures that already exist for the surveillance of budgetary and economic policy at EU level, which have been enhanced through the European Semester, Six Pack and Two Pack reforms.
Fight against protectionism - Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2013
The European Commission on 14 March reports some success in its strategy to fight global trade barriers. Efforts to fight protectionism over the last year, it says, are bearing fruit and could create better trade and investment conditions for EU companies. Yet the struggle against protectionism continues. The resistance of Europe's strategic partners to the plea for open markets comes into the limelight in the Commission's third annual Trade and Investment Barriers Report published today. In particular, China, India, Mercosur and Russia do not escape criticism.