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Issue 23 | May 2013

Commissioner Barnier welcomed the agreement on disclosure requirements for the extractive industry and loggers of primary forests and on simpler accounting requirements for small companies

The new agreement establishes rules ensuring that these companies disclose payments to governments (e.g. taxes on profits, royalties, and licence fees) on a country and project basis. Reporting would also be carried out on a project basis, where payments have been attributed to specific projects. This agreement is an important step in fulfilling objectives for more responsible businesses. It follows up on commitments agreed under the Single Market Act I with the aim of fostering a sustainable and inclusive growth model.


"The agreement on the disclosure requirements for the extractive and forestry industries shows how EU legislation can be a catalyst for change in developing countries. Local communities in resource-rich countries will finally be better informed about what their governments are being paid by multinationals for exploiting oil and gas fields, mineral deposits and forests. The agreement will bring in a new era of transparency to an industry which is far too often shrouded in secrecy and help fight tax evasion and corruption as well as create the framework so both companies and governments can be held to account on the use of revenues from natural resources."

Latest news »« TOP
Bank accounts: Commission acts to make bank accounts cheaper, more transparent and accessible to all

On 8 May, the European Commission published its proposal for a Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account. In today's world, European citizens cannot fully participate in society without a basic bank account. Bank accounts have become an essential part of our everyday life, allowing us to make and receive payments, shop online, and pay utility bills (telephone, gas, electricity). Whilst single market legislation has ensured that banks can operate throughout the European Union and offer their services cross-border, this mobility is not mirrored for citizens who are often unable to open an account in another Member State or to easily switch from one bank to another. Furthermore, consumers often pay above the odds for the services they receive from their bank and struggle to have clarity on the various fees charged.

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European Financial Stability and Integration Report underlines urgency of reforms

On 25 April, the European Commission published the European Financial Stability and Integration Report (EFSIR), presented at a joint conference with the European Central Bank (ECB) in Brussels. Commissioner Barnier: "The policies analysed in this report are our best instruments to exit the crisis. Our reform agenda addresses the "too big to fail" question and is creating a more resilient and integrated European market in financial services. It is imperative that our financial sector is in a position to support the real economy and establish the basis for long-term growth".

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Commission presents report on progress towards a Digital Single Market

On 23 April, the Commission published a report outlining the state of play on the implementation of the e-commerce action plan 2012-2015, presented in January to accelerate the development of on-line services and in particular e-commerce. A functioning Digital Single Market promises a more prosperous and competitive Europe. The report shows that many important actions set out in the action plan have already been initiated (for example in the areas of reinforcing consumer protection; improving parcel delivery and payments; fighting abuse; and integrating technological developments). In 2013, the Commission intends to bring forward more proposals to remove further obstacles to the Digital Single Market. Payments, delivery, and removal of illegal content are three key subjects to be tackled this year.

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Online counterfeits: 33 companies and trade associations join in fight against the online sale of counterfeit goods

On 18 April, the European Commission adopted a Report on the functioning of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the sale of counterfeit goods via the Internet. This MoU , which was concluded under the auspices of the Commission on 4 May 2011, brings together 33 companies and trade associations, covering 39 different internet sites including leading e-commerce platforms as well as major brands in the field of fast moving consumer goods, consumer electronics, fashion, luxury goods, sports goods, film, software, games and toys in a joint fight against the online sale of counterfeit goods. The Report – the first of its kind – provides a detailed assessment of best practices and practical measures that successfully prevent the sale of counterfeits online, protecting consumers looking for genuine products in the digital Internal Market.

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Commission moves to enhance business transparency on social and environmental matters

On 16 April, the European Commission proposed an amendment to existing accounting legislation in order to improve the transparency of certain large companies on social and environmental matters. Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on the boards of directors.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner, Michel Barnier said: "This is about providing useful information for companies, investors and society at large - much demanded by the investor community. The new rules will only apply to large companies with more than 500 employees as the costs for requiring small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to apply the new rules could outweigh the benefits."

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Visits and Missions »« TOP
Commissioner Barnier, London: 10-11 April 2013

As usual, the Commissioner attended the meeting of the Monitoring Board of the International Accounting Standards Board on 10 and 11 April. The Board is responsible for the development of international accounting standards. The meeting was also used to launch the process of enlarging the Monitoring Board to new members. This body, responsible for gathering public authorities’ viewpoints on the development of accounting standards, is at present only composed of European Commission representatives, representatives of the United States, Japan, the Basel Committee and of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions. At this meeting, the Green Paper on long-term financing of the economy was presented, which had been adopted by the College this month. Some of the Green Paper’s questions focus on the interaction between accounting standards and investment in the medium and long-term.

 
Commissioner Barnier, Dublin: 12-13 April 2013

The informal Ecofin Council held in Dublin on 12 and 13 April was marked by a final political agreement on the single supervisory mechanism. Ministers and central bank governors had a detailed exchange on the progress of the banking union and in particular the proposed single resolution mechanism that the Commission will propose this summer. They also gave an update on the ongoing reforms in the financial sector including the directive on bank resolution stressing that if it had been in place in Cyprus, the settlement would have been more effective and less costly.


Commissioner Barnier, Bruges: 18 April 2013

In November 2012, the Commissioner discussed the role that science could play in contributing to financial stability; during his speech at the College of Europe in Bruges on April 18, he focused on the contribution of scientific analysis to the construction of a banking union. In this context, the Commissioner stressed the importance of such an analysis in understanding complex phenomena, failure detection, evaluation of options for regulation and the impact on the real economy.

Consultations »« TOP
  26.04.2013  -  19.07.2013Financial ServicesEuropean System of Financial Supervision

  16.04.2013  -  15.07.2013InsuranceConsultation on the Green Paper on the Insurance of Natural and Man-made Disasters

  25.03.2013  -  25.06.2013Financial ServicesConsultation on the Green paper on the long-term financing of the European economy

News from the Parliament »« TOP
Strasbourg plenary week (15-18 April 2013)
  • 16 April: Debate with President of European Central bank, Mario Draghi on ECB annual report 2011.
  • 16 April: Joint debate on capital and prudential requirements for credit institutions and investment firms. Commissioner Barnier said that the new framework will make EU banks more solid and had such rules been in place earlier, the banking crises would have been prevented or more limited.
  • 17 April: Key debate on current situation in Cyprus Council, Commission made statements.

See also:
  Website: IMCO (Internal Market Committee)
  Website ECON (Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee)

For your diary »Latest publications »Question of the Month »
  17 May 2013
Stakeholders meeting on Bank Structural Reform

  24 May 2013
Public Hearing on Financial Supervision in the EU

  3 June 2013
Workshop on Crowdfunding

Single Market News
Nº65 (2013 – I)



A new financial system for Europe – Financial reform at the service of growth


Do you believe that all EU citizens should have access to a bank account?

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Results from the last month:
Do you think that the EU is doing enough to reform the financial sector?
YES - 37.2%
NO - 62.8%

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