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Brussels, 22nd February 2002
Financial Services Action Plan: Mid-Term Review emphasises need for swift progress
The importance of integrated capital markets for economic growth, job creation, financial stability, lower prices and for enabling consumers to reap the full benefits of the euro was underlined in Brussels today at the Mid-Term Review of the Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP), adopted in May 1999 (see IP/99/327). Participants included representatives of the Member States, Members of the European Parliament, and leading players from the financial services sector. They stressed the need for further rapid progress if the Action Plan is to be completed on target in 2005 and if the EU is to reach the goal set by the Lisbon European Council of becoming the most competitive economy in the world by 2010. They welcomed the progress already made (with legislation adopted in areas such as combating money laundering, cross-border payments and insurance solvency) and called for renewed efforts over pensions, prospectuses, financial conglomerates and takeovers. They hailed as a springboard for further progress the agreement between the European Institutions over implementing the recommendations of the Committee of Wise Men on the Regulation of European Securities Markets, chaired by Baron Alexander Lamfalussy (see IP/02/195). The Review also addressed the issue of consumer protection and stressed the need for clear information to the public on the long-term benefits of financial integration.
European Commission President Romano Prodi said: "Implementation of the Financial Services Action Plan must not be allowed to falter or fail. That would undermine our whole strategy for sustainable growth, competitiveness, stability, employment and innovation. Now, more than ever, political statements must be translated into hard commitments and firm agreements." (see SPEECH/02/82).
Closing the conference, Mr Bolkestein described the day's discussions as "most constructive and fruitful". He added: "To me, the most striking observation is the degree of consensus on the importance of the overall objectives, on how to get there and on how crucial it is to do so quickly."
The main conclusions of today's review were:
Mr Bolkestein promised that the Commission would present as soon as possible its remaining proposals under the Action Plan, including Takeover Bids, a revision of the Investment Services Directive, and a number of company law related Directives. The Commission would also bring forward proposals on capital requirements for banks. A consultative document would be issued as soon as work on a new Capital Accord in the Basel committee on banking supervision was sufficiently advanced (see IP/01/1862).
The Mid-Term Review is one of a series of steps in the approach to the March 2002 Barcelona Summit, where Heads of State and Government will discuss progress made in the EU economic reform process. Its conclusions will feed into the 14th meeting of the Financial Services Policy Group, comprising personal representatives of Finance Ministers, on 26 February. The Review will also contribute to discussions at Ministerial level in the run up to the summit.
The European Round Table on Financial Services (ERF) contributed to the review through the participation of its Chair Pehr Gyllenhammar. The ERF is an industry body representing many of Europe's largest financial institutions and has recently drawn up a report on the benefits of financial integration.
Full details of participants and the programme are available on the Europa website:
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/en/finances/actionplan/index.htmFurther details of the conclusions will be posted on the same page as soon as possible.