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Guides on the EU policy on Finance.
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.
Late Payments Directive
By 16 March 2013 EU Member States will need to have integrated the revised Late Payments Directive into their national law. It obliges public authorities to pay for goods and services within 30 calendar days or, in very exceptional circumstances, within 60 days. Businesses should pay their invoices within 60 calendar days, unless they expressly agree otherwise and if it is not grossly unfair to the creditor.
EUR 414m CAP expenditure claw-back
A total of €414 million of EU agricultural policy funds unduly spent by EU Member States is being claimed back by the European Commission under the 'clearance of accounts procedure'. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds. This money returns to the EU budget because of non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate control procedures on agricultural expenditure. Formally speaking, because some of these amounts have already been recovered from the Member States the net financial impact of today's decision will be some EUR 393 million.
Financial Transaction Tax
The details of the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) to be implemented under enhanced cooperation have been set out in a proposal adopted by the European Commission. As requested by the 11 EU Member States that will proceed with this tax, the proposed Directive mirrors the scope and objectives of the original FTT proposal put forward by the Commission in September 2011. The approach of taxing all transactions with an established link to the FTT-zone is maintained, as are the rates of 0.1% for shares and bonds and 0.01% for derivatives. When applied by the 11 Member States, this Financial Transaction Tax is expected to deliver revenues of 30-35 billion euros a year. There are certain limited changes in today's FTT proposal compared to the original one, to take into account the fact that the tax will be implemented on a smaller geographical scale than originally foreseen. These changes are mainly to ensure legal clarity and to reinforce anti-avoidance and anti-abuse provisions.
Anti-Money Laundering
The European Commission has adopted two proposals to reinforce the EU's existing rules on anti-money laundering and fund transfers. The threats associated with money laundering and terrorist financing are constantly evolving, which requires regular updates of the rules. The package includes: a directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing[ and a regulation on information accompanying transfers of funds to secure "due traceability" of these transfers.
New rules on credit rating agencies (CRAs)
New rules on when and how credit rating agencies may rate state debts and private firms' financial health were approved by the European Parliament on 16 January. They will allow agencies to issue unsolicited sovereign debt ratings only on set dates, and enable private investors to sue them for negligence. Agencies' shareholdings in rated firms will be capped, to reduce conflicts of interest.
Blueprint for a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
The European Commission adopted on 28 November a Blueprint for a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union, which provides a vision for a strong and stable architecture in the financial, fiscal, economic and political domains.
2013 Annual Growth Survey
The European Commission on 28 November adopted the 2013 Annual Growth Survey (AGS), setting out five priorities designed to guide Member States through the crisis to renewed growth. The AGS kick-starts the European Semester for economic policy coordination, which ensures Member States align their budgetary and economic plans with the Stability and Growth Pact and the Europe 2020 strategy.
European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism
The European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) mechanism provides financial assistance to EU Member States in financial difficulties.
Improved access to EU funds for European businesses, towns, regions and scientists: rules of application for the New Financial Regulation
Following the recent entry into force of the new Financial Regulation the European Commission has adopted new detailed Rules of application. The delivery of EU funds to businesses, NGOs, researchers, students, municipalities and other recipients will be improved as of 1 January 2013 thanks to simplified procedures. The new legislation increases transparency and introduces higher accountability for anyone dealing with EU finances. It includes wider possibilities to use lump sums and flat rates for smaller amounts, eliminates the need to fill in the same details every time you apply for EU funds and introduces on-line applications as well as many other new features.
Enhanced Cooperation on Financial Transaction Tax
In September 2011, the European Commission tabled a proposal for a Directive on a financial transaction tax. The essence of this proposal was that a low-rate, wide-base tax would be applied on all financial transactions with any economic link to the EU. The estimated revenue yield was EUR 57 billion. Following intense discussions for 9 months on this proposal, EU Member States concluded that they would not be able to agree upon it unanimously within a reasonable period. Nonetheless, a significant number of Member States were still eager to have a common FTT. Therefore, 10 Member States formally requested to proceed through enhanced cooperation. They wrote to the Commission, asking for a Decision to be submitted to ECOFIN to enable them to move ahead as a smaller group. Today's Commission proposal for a Decision authorising enhanced cooperation for a financial transaction tax responds to this request.
Cyber Europe 2012
Hundreds of cyber security experts from across the EU are testing their readiness to combat cyber-attacks in a day-long simulation across Europe today. In Cyber Europe 2012, 400 experts from major financial institutions, telecoms companies, internet service providers and local and national governments across Europe are facing more than 1200 separate cyber incidents (including more than 30 000 emails) during a simulated distributed denial of service (DDoS) campaign. The exercise is testing how they would respond and co-operate in the event of sustained attacks against the public websites and computer systems of major European banks. If real, such an attack would cause massive disruption for millions of citizens and businesses across Europe, and millions of euros of damage to the EU economy.
Libor scandal: Amendments to proposed Market Abuse legislation to fight rate-fixing
The European Commission has presented amendments to its October 2011 Proposals for a Regulation on Market Abuse and for a Directive on Criminal Sanctions for Market Abuse. In the recent LIBOR scandal, serious concerns have been raised about false submissions of banks' estimated interbank lending rates. Any actual or attempted manipulation of such key benchmarks can have a serious impact on market integrity, and could result in significant losses to consumers and investors, or distort the real economy.
Proposal to protect financial interests of the EU
Misuse of EU funds for criminal purposes puts the EU's objectives of generating jobs and growth and improving living conditions at stake. With public finances under pressure throughout the EU, every euro counts. The European Commission, has therefore proposed new rules today to fight fraud against the EU budget by means of criminal law to better safeguard taxpayers' money. The Directive creates a more harmonised framework for prosecuting and punishing crimes involving the EU budget so that criminals no longer exploit differences between national legal systems. The Directive provides for common definitions of offences against the EU budget and for minimum sanctions, including imprisonment in serious cases, and for a common level playing field for periods within which it is possible to investigate and prosecute offences (ie. statutes of limitation). This, says the Commission, will help to deter fraudsters, provide for more effective legal action at national level and make it easier to recover lost funds.
Consumer protection in financial services - Undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) – improved requirements for depositaries and fund managers
The European Commission has presented a legislative package that raises standards in financial services and removes loopholes for the benefit of consumers. Specifically, the package proposes new, consumer-friendly standards for information about investments, raises standards for advice, and tightens certain rules on investment funds to ensure their safety. The original UCITS Directive created the internal market for investment funds in Europe. The current EU legislation for investment funds (the UCITS Directive) has been the basis for an integrated market facilitating the cross-border offer of collective investment funds. Managing almost €6 trillion in assets2, UCITS have proved successful and are widely used by European retail investors. UCITS are also regularly sold to investors outside the EU where they are valued due to their high level of investor protection. The Commission's proposed amendments to the current UCITS rules are based on the experience from the financial crisis, so as to continue to ensure the safety of investors and the integrity of the market. In particular, the proposal will ensure that the UCITS brand remains trustworthy by ensuring that the depositary's (the asset-keeping entity) duties and liability are clear and uniform across the EU3. Today's proposal addresses three areas: a precise definition of the tasks and liabilities of all depositaries acting on behalf of a UCITS fund; clear rules on the remuneration of UCITS managers: the way they are remunerated should not encourage excessive risk-taking. Remuneration policy will be better linked with the long-term interest of investors and the achievement of the investment objectives of the UCITS; and a common approach to how core breaches of the UCITS legal framework are sanctioned, introducing common standards on the levels of administrative fines so as to ensure they always exceed potential benefits derived from the violation of provisions.