Why do we need a capital markets union?
The capital markets union (CMU) is a plan to create a single market for capital. The aim is to get money – investments and savings – flowing across the EU so that it can benefit consumers, investors and companies, regardless of where they are located.
A capital markets union will
- provide businesses with a greater choice of funding at lower costs and provide SMEs in particular with the financing they need
- support the economic recovery post-Covid-19 and create jobs
- offer new opportunities for savers and investors
- create a more inclusive and resilient economy
- help Europe deliver its New Green Deal and Digital Agenda
- reinforce the EU’s global competitiveness and autonomy
- make the financial system more resilient so it can better adapt to the UK’s departure from the EU
New CMU action plan
While progress has been made since 2015, EU capital markets remain fragmented. This means that European citizens and businesses are not able to fully benefit from the deep, competitive, efficient and reliable sources of funding and investment that capital markets can offer. A strong and complete CMU is needed now more than ever, in order to support the economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis and finance the green and digital transitions.
Against this backdrop, the Commission on 24 September 2020 adopted a new CMU action plan. The plan sets out 16 legislative and non-legislative measures to deliver on three main objectives
- support a green, inclusive and resilient economic recovery
- make the EU an even safer place to save and invest long-term
- and integrate national capital markets into a genuine single market
The steps towards a CMU taken so far
Efforts to put in place a true single market for capital started with the Treaty of Rome more than 60 years ago and intensified with the free movement of capital, a freedom enshrined in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty and the financial service action plan in 1999. But this objective has not yet been achieved.
The CMU initiative was launched by the Juncker Commission, which adopted the first CMU action plan in September 2015. It sets out a list of over 30 actions to establish the building blocks of an integrated capital market in the EU by 2019.
- September 2015
The Commission adopted the first CMU action plan.
- April 2016
The Commission took stock of the progress made in the first six months of implementation of the CMU action plan in its first status report.
- September 2016
The European Commission adopted a communication setting out the next steps to accelerate the completion of the CMU
- June 2017
The Commission mid-term review updated and complemented the CMU action plan by strengthening existing actions and introducing new measures in response to evolving priorities and challenges.
The Commission published a progress report showing that the Commission has tabled all the legislative proposals it committed to in the CMU action plan and mid-term review.
Working towards a capital markets union remains a top priority of the Von Der Leyen Commission and is part of Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis’ mandate for an economy that works for people.
To feed into its work on future CMU policies, the Commission brought together 28 highly experienced industry executives and top international experts and scholars in the High Level Forum on CMU.
In June 2020 the Forum published its final report with 17 recommendations to the Commission on the way forward to completing CMU.
- 24 September 2020
The Commission adopted its new action plan on the CMU.
- 9 June 2021
The Commission published a list of indicators to monitor progress towards the CMU objectives.
Measures already implemented
The Commission has largely delivered on the individual actions announced in the 2015 CMU action plan and the 2017 mid-term review. The European Parliament and Member States have so far agreed on 12 out of 13 legislative proposals put forward by the Commission. In addition, the Commission has completed a number of non-legislative measures to further the aims of CMU.
Final report of the Technical Expert Stakeholder Group (TESG) on SMEs
Broadening access to market-based sources of financing for European companies at each stage of their development is at the heart of the capital markets union. To do so, the CMU initiative has strived to create a more conducive regulatory framework supporting access to public funding for small and mid-sized Enterprises (SMEs). In October 2020, as mandated by Regulation 2019/2115 as regards the promotion of the use of SME growth markets, the European Commission set up a Technical Expert Stakeholder Group on SMEs (TESG) that brought together relevant stakeholders with technical expertise on SMEs’ access to finance. The Group was tasked with monitoring and assessing the functioning of SME Growth Markets, as well as providing expertise and possible input on other relevant areas of SME access to public markets. Their work was finalised in May 2021 and culminated with their final report setting out 12 concrete recommendations to foster SME listing.
As per action 2 of the new CMU action plan, the Commission will now thoroughly assess the proposals made by the TESG and explore possibilities to simplify listing rules for public markets, in order to facilitate and diversify small and innovative companies’ access to funding.
Call for feedback on the feasibility assessment for a potential EU referral scheme
In the capital markets union action plan published in September 2020, the Commission committed to analysing by Q4 2021 the merits and feasibility of setting up a referral scheme to require banks (and other providers of funding) to direct small and medium enterprises whose funding application they have turned down to providers of alternative funding. The objective of this scheme, if implemented, will be to facilitate SMEs’ access to a wider set of funding options, including alternative funding options.
The present call for feedback aims at gathering evidence and feedback from stakeholders on whether there is potential for a referral scheme to help SMEs whose funding applications have been rejected by a finance provider and options for the scope, features and governance of such a possible scheme. The questionnaire will feed into the feasibility study.
The call for feedback would invite all relevant stakeholders, including banks, financing platforms, SMEs, relevant associations, national and EU institutions and supervisory authorities, to provide their input.
Development of a financial competence framework in the EU
In the capital markets union action plan published in September 2020, the Commission committed to conducting by Q2 2021 a feasibility assessment on the development of an EU financial competence framework. The report presents the results of the feasibility assessment and the way forward. The report concludes that the most appropriate way forward is to work with the OECD on joint EU/OECD financial competence frameworks for adults and youth.
The financial competence frameworks will outline key areas of competence pertaining to personal finance (e.g. planning a budget, investing, borrowing or preparing for retirement) and within these categories, specific levels of proficiency. The frameworks will cover the knowledge/awareness, skills/behaviours and confidence/attitudes/motivation that individuals need to develop and display in order to support their financial well-being throughout their lives.
The objective of the frameworks is to provide a shared understanding of necessary financial competences in the EU. They should serve as basis for future financial literacy measures.
Learn more in the report below:
Studies under the CMU
Since the launch of the first capital markets union action plan in 2015, the Commission carried out a number of studies, prepared by external consultants, to inform its work in specific areas. This research helps the Commission shape policy actions and identify where legislation may be needed.