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Competition: Commission holds public hearing on competition in retail banking
Commission Européenne - IP/06/999 17/07/2006
Brussels, 17th July 2006
The European Commission is holding a public hearing in Brussels on 17th July to discuss the preliminary findings of its sector inquiry into competition in retail banking. The sector inquiry is looking at the markets for payment cards and for core retail banking services in the EU. In its interim report on payment cards, published in April (see IP/06/496 and MEMO/06/164), the Commission highlighted significant market barriers which pushed up prices for firms and consumers. The Commission has now published its interim report on core retail banking services, including current accounts and related services, which shows clear evidence of fragmented markets and of areas where markets are not working as well as they should. The Commission is keen to learn the views of all stakeholders as to the causes of these problems, before reaching final conclusions.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “Our competition analysis of the retail banking market shows that markets across the EU remain fragmented, that there are still significant entry barriers and that consumers and SMEs have difficulties in finding the best offers for them. We want to discuss with stakeholders how best to tackle these problems.”
At the public hearing the Commission is presenting the preliminary findings of the sector inquiry to stakeholders, including industry, consumer groups and regulators. Participants are discussing the Commission’s preliminary findings on payment cards, published on 12 April, and debating the main points raised during the written phase of public consultation. The Commission has now also published its preliminary findings on the market for core retail banking services, including current accounts and related services. A twelve week public consultation on the preliminary findings will end on 9 October 2006.
The interim report published in April on the payment cards sector confirmed that businesses and consumers do not yet benefit from a fully competitive internal market in payment cards. The large price differentials in the Single Market are a clear sign of this. There were also indications that banks issuing cards may be obtaining significant economic rents.
While the Commission is still analysing the more than eighty written comments received, it is already possible to say that:
Core retail banking services
The main findings of the Commission’s Interim Report on competition for core retail banking services, including current accounts and related services, are that:
The Commission will take into account all
submissions received during the public consultation to prepare its final report.
The final report of the retail banking sector inquiry – covering payment
cards and current accounts and related services – will be published by the
end of 2006.