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Financial services: general framework

Internal market

The integration of financial markets means that capital can be allocated more efficiently and makes for better long term economic performance. The European Union has established a legislative framework geared to strengthening the financial services sector, in particular in order to improve the performance of financial operators and boost liquidity, competition and financial stability.
European policy on financial services shares some concerns with that on the free movement of capital when it comes to facilitating, and improving the security of, financial activity. Such issues stem in particular from the cross border character of this activity, but also from the massive growth in services based on new technologies.
Financial services policy covers three main sectors: the banking system, insurance and securities. Apart from laying down rules for operators and investors (banks, insurance and securities), the Union also intends to give greater protection to consumers in specific areas such as retail financial services.

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