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IP/05/444

Brussels, 18 April 2005

Financial sector: Commission launches survey on obstacles to cross-border mergers and acquisitions

The European Commission has launched an online survey on why there is little cross-border consolidation in the financial sector. The survey will be open until 15 June 2005. The responses received will serve as an input for a report that the Commission will submit to the Ministers of the ECOFIN Council in September.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: “A sound and efficient integrated market for financial services is essential for Europe’s economic growth and competitiveness. We now must understand why there is so little cross-border consolidation in the financial sector. There is no doubt who is best placed to help us: primarily market participants, but also regulators. So we are asking them directly. While market forces must set the pace, the Commission must ensure that no unjustified obstacles exist. We will address any market failure or gap in regulation that might be identified.”

Empirical data shows a low level of cross-border consolidation in the European financial sector. The survey seeks to establish what are the underlying factors and obstacles inhibiting financial companies from exploiting the full range of cross-border opportunities available in the internal market.

How to take part in the consultation

The Commission encourages all stakeholders, especially the financial services industry, to take part in the online survey. To make it as quick and easy as possible to respond, the Commission is using its Interactive Policy Making (IPM) tool, which aims to improve governance by creating web-based questionnaires for collecting and analysing reactions.

To help respondents, the Commission has compiled a list of possible obstacles from various sources. This list is downloadable from the survey.

The consultation is open until 15 June 2005. It can be accessed via:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/cross-sector/index_en.htm

The results will be made available before the end of July 2005 on this website.

Background

The issue of low cross-border consolidation in the financial sector was discussed at the informal meeting of Economics and Finance Ministers held in Scheveningen on 10-11 September 2004. Ministers asked the Commission to study possible obstacles to cross-border mergers and acquisitions in the financial sector, arising not only from differing supervisory practices but also from other, broader factors (MEMO/04/214). The results of the online survey will be used as input to a report to Ministers in September this year.

As mandated by Economic and Finance Ministers, the Commission will simultaneously pursue ongoing work on the review of those parts of the EU’s Banking Directive (2000/12/EC) that allow Member States to block mergers and acquisitions on prudential grounds.

The Commission also intends to review the application of the Treaty based freedom of capital movements to cross-border mergers and acquisitions in the financial sector.

For more information on Financial Services in the Internal Market, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/index_en.htm

For frequently asked questions see: MEMO/04/131


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