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Guides on the EU policy on Finance.
Chinese treatment of foreign financial information providers - EU WTO request
The European Union has formally requested consultations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over measures that affect the operation of foreign financial information suppliers in China. China has prevented foreign suppliers of financial information services from providing their services directly to their clients. They are now required to operate through an agent that is a branch of Xinhua itself. Moreover, Xinhua has recently launched a financial information service in direct competition with foreign suppliers. The European Commission had tried to solve the issue through cooperation and dialogue, but without success. The United States has also requested consultations at the WTO over this issue.
Commission Communication on Financial Stability - guide
The European Commission on 27 February 2008 adopted communications on sovereign wealth funds and on adapting European and global financial systems to better promote financial stability. These communications are the Commission contribution to EU leaders' discussions on these subjects at the Spring European Council on March 13-14. On financial stability, the Commission wants the European Council to confirm the principles which will guide the EU’s efforts to improve financial market transparency and reinforce prudential control and risk management, and to set out the broad lines of the action to be taken.
Sovereign wealth funds and financial stability - guide
The European Commission has today adopted communications on sovereign wealth funds and on adapting European and global financial systems to better promote financial stability. These communications are the Commission contribution to EU leaders' discussions on these subjects at the Spring European Council on March 13-14. On sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), the Commission is proposing that EU leaders endorse a common EU approach to increasing the transparency, predictability and accountability of SWFs. This common approach will strengthen Europe’s voice in international discussions aiming to establish a code of conduct including standards in areas of transparency and governance. On financial stability, the Commission wants the European Council to confirm the principles which will guide the EU’s efforts to improve financial market transparency and reinforce prudential control and risk management, and to set out the broad lines of the action to be taken.
Modernised Community Customs Code - guide
The aim of the modernised Community Customs Code regulation is to replace the existing Community Customs Code and the related Regulations with a modernized Customs Code that streamlines customs procedures and lays the foundations for accessible, inter-operable customs clearance systems at EU level.
Institutionalised Public-Private Partnerships - Commission guidance
The European Commission on 18 February 2008 published guidance on the founding of Institutionalised Public-Private Partnerships (IPPP). IPPP are undertakings jointly held by public and private partners and are usually set up to provide services for the public, in particular at the local level. The Commission's guidance is based on a ruling of the European Court of Justice (C-26/03 "Stadt Halle"). The Stadt Halle case requires transparent and competitive award procedures whenever public contracts or concessions are awarded to public-private partnerships. The guidance clarifies the EC rules that apply when an IPPP is set up. In so doing, it provides greater legal certainty not only for the public sector but also for private investors in the area of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).
Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) - guide
SEPA, the Single Euro Payments Area, went live on 28 January 2008 and European banks formally launched the first SEPA payment instrument for credit transfers. This marks the first step in a migration process over the next few years during which customers will move in a market-led process from existing national electronic payment instruments to the new SEPA instruments. The European Commission said in a statement: "this is a logical extension to the introduction of the euro and will produce substantial benefits through a more competitive and efficient payments market".
Consumer Credit Directive - guide
Consumers across Europe look set to be able to make better informed choices when they take out consumer credit loans - paying for holidays, weddings or a new car - following a decision in the European Parliament on 16 January 2008. The proposed EU Directive on Consumer Credit Loans aims to break open the EUR 800 billion EU consumer loans market which remains largely fragmented into national markets denying consumers choice and more competitive prices. The new rules will make the market more transparent for consumers and business competitors. The main effect will be to provide standard, comparable information to customers across the EU taking out a credit loan. Under the new rules, consumers will be assured access to key facts and figures in advertisements. For credit offers, the information given to consumers (e.g interest rates, amount, number and frequency of payments, the obligation to take out an insurance or the charges for defaulting) must be set out in a new comparable EU-wide European Credit Information Form. And there will be a new single EU-wide method for calculating the Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APR) so consumers can see the real cost of credit. The proposed directive also sets common standards on a right of withdrawal so consumers can change their mind. This Consumer Credit Directive is part of a bigger drive to boost the cross border market in retail financial services as set out in the recently published Green Paper on Retail Financial Services.
The euro and the eurozone - guide
Background information on the euro and the euro area, or eurozone.
EC prohibits MasterCard's intra-EEA Multilateral Interchange Fees - guide
The European Commission on 19 December 2007 decided that MasterCard's multilateral interchange fees (MIF) for cross-border payment card transactions with MasterCard and Maestro branded debit and consumer credit cards in the European Economic Area (EEA) violate EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81). The Commission concluded that MasterCard's MIF, a charge levied on each payment at a retail outlet when the payment is processed, inflated the cost of card acceptance by retailers without leading to proven efficiencies. MasterCard has six months to comply with the Commission's order to withdraw the fees. If MasterCard fails to comply, the Commission may impose daily penalty payments of 3.5% of its daily global turnover in the preceding business year. MIF are not illegal as such. However, a MIF in an open payment card scheme such as MasterCard's is only compatible with EU competition rules if it contributes to technical and economic progress and benefits consumers. In the EU, over 23 billion payments, exceeding a value of EUR 1,350 billion, are made every year with payment cards.
Contraband and counterfeit cigarettes - guide
The European Commission, together with 26 participating Member States of the European Union, and JT International (JTI) on 14 December 2007 announced a multi-year agreement that includes an efficient system to fight against future cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting. Through the Agreement, JTI will work with the European Commission, its anti-fraud office OLAF, and law enforcement authorities of the Member States to help in the fight against contraband, including the problem of counterfeit cigarettes. The Agreement includes substantial payments by JTI, which total USD 400 million over fifteen years.
EU budget 2008: breakdown
In 2008, for the first time ever, the largest share of the EU budget - 45% of all EU spending – will go on measures to boost economic growth and greater cohesion in the EU-27. The move to spend more on competitiveness reflects Europe's commitment to prosper in a constantly evolving global economy, while ensuring stable support for farming. Agriculture will continue to receive over 40% of EU cash.
Direct taxation : EC Communication on the application of anti-abuse measures - guide
The European Commission adopted on 10 December 2007 a Communication inviting EU Member States to carry out a general review of their anti-abuse rules in the direct tax area, in light of the principles flowing from relevant ECJ case law, – and to explore possible coordinated solutions in this field. In order to prevent tax abuse, Member States have implemented anti-abuse rules with the aim of preventing economic operators from eroding the tax base in their territory by diverting their income to other countries. Member States' existing anti-abuse rules often do not properly take into consideration the freedoms of the Treaty and are therefore increasingly challenged. In the framework of an EU-coordinated approach in direct taxation (IP/06/1827), the Commission is willing to assist Member States in bringing their anti-abuse rules in line with EC law requirements and to explore the scope for constructive and coordinated responses to the challenges faced by Member States.
Modernising VAT rules applied on financial and insurance services - guide
The European Commission adopted on 28 November 2008 a proposal for a European Union Directive aiming at modernising and simplifying the complex VAT rules for financial and insurance services and securing a level playing field in the pan-EU market for these services as far as VAT is concerned. These services are generally exempt from VAT but the exemption dates from 1977 and the legislation has not kept abreast of developments since then. Today, the exemption is not applied uniformly by the EU Member States and thus frequently the European Court of Justice has been asked to fill the legislative gap and clarify the correct interpretation. The proposal will create more certainty and security for Member States and for financial and insurance institutions by setting clear modern definitions of exempt services. It will also allow these institutions to manage the costs of non deductible VAT by allowing them to opt for taxation and by clarifying and extending the tax exemption for cost sharing arrangements.
EU directive to improve remedies in the area of public procurement - guide
The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament on 15 November 2007 adopted a Commission proposal for a Directive reviewing EU rules on remedies in the area of public procurement. This new Directive improves the national review procedures that businesses can use when they consider that a public authority has awarded a contract unfairly.
European Court of Auditors' Annual Report - guide
The European Court of Auditors' 2006 Annual Report identifies some improvements, particularly in agricultural spending, although errors of legality and regularity still persist in the majority of EU expenditure due to weaknesses in internal control systems both at the European Commission and in EU Member States.
Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) - guide
On 1 November 2007, the EU Markets in Financial Services Directive enters into force. This landmark law will play a central role in creating a robust, common regulatory framework for Europe's securities markets. MiFID will increase competition among exchanges, multilateral trading facilities (MTFs) and investment firms, giving them a "single passport" to operate throughout the EU on the basis of authorisation in their home Member State. Investors will not only have access to a greater number of trading venues, but also a more robust and comprehensive framework ensuring high levels of investor protection. Significant market developments are already underway in anticipation of this new, more competitive environment.
European Private Company - guide
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about EU Company Law and the European Private Company (EPC)
State aid for airports and start-up aid to airlines - questions & answers
In September 2005 the European Commission adopted "Community guidelines on financing of airports and start-up aid to airlines departing from regional airports" (hereinafter the 2005 aviation guidelines). These guidelines were put in place to codify Commission practice and to take account of changes which had taken placed in the European aviation market. The 2005 guidelines reflect the jurisprudence of the "Aeroports de Paris" cases wherein the European Courts have clarified that airport management and operation activities consisting in the provision of airport services to airlines and to the various service providers within airports are economic activities. The guidelines also reflect the competitive situation of the fully liberalised air transport market in place since the completion of the third aviation liberalisation packet in the 1990s.
Solvency II guide
The European Commission on 10 July 2007 proposed a ground-breaking revision of EU insurance law designed to improve consumer protection, modernise supervision, deepen market integration and increase the international competitiveness of European insurers. Under the new system, known as 'Solvency II', insurers would be required to take account of all types of risk to which they are exposed and to manage those risks more effectively. In addition, insurance groups would have a dedicated 'group supervisor' that would enable better monitoring of the group as a whole. The Commission aims to have the new system in operation in 2012. This proposal is part of the Commission's Better Regulation strategy and its firm commitment to simplify the regulatory environment and cut red tape. It will mean replacing 14 existing directives with a single directive. The proposal now passes to the European Parliament and Council for consideration.
EC Communication on VAT reduced rates – Frequently Asked Questions
The European Commission has launched a political debate on how to simplify current EU legislation on reduced VAT rates. In a Communication adopted on 5 July 2007, it considers that there is a real need for a simplification and rationalisation of the current VAT rates structure, in particular the reduced VAT rates. It believes that there is a place for more flexibility which would allow Member States to apply VAT reduced rates to local supplies. On the other hand, it says this flexibility needs to be balanced to ensure the proper functioning of the Internal Market and to avoid disproportionate compliance costs for business. To this extent, possible ways are put forward but no concrete proposal is made for new categories of products or services, given the need for prior political consideration by Member States. At the same time, the Commission proposes to extend, until the end 2010, most of the derogations which are about to come to an end.