Friday, 3 August 2007

Harmonising Retail Financial Services

The European Commission is eager to fully harmonise the retail
financial services industry. Last April, the European Commission
adopted a Green Paper “on Retail Financial Services in the Single
Market.” The Commission’s vision for future EU policy on retail
financial services (bank accounts, loans, investments and insurance
provided to consumers) has been expressed in the Green Paper. It
aims at deepening the Commission regulation of consumer and
industry policy in the area of retail financial services and
identifying the possibilities for further initiatives. The government
has already said that “many of the barriers that obstruct retail
markets are not regulatory” – such as language barriers and cultural
practices. Therefore, according to Ed Balls “a legislative approach
will often be less likely to be effective in removing many of the barriers
present in retail markets.” It remains to be seen what will come out
from the consultation. It seems certain that any Commission
proposal on the matter will have a huge impact on retail financial

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