Auteur: Richard Carter
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Two controversial but crucial measures to improve the European market for financial services were today passed by the European Parliament.
The two measures - known in Brussels jargon as "the investment services directive" and "the transparency directive" - are expected to increase competition in the financial marketplace.
The European Commission estimates that integrating financial services across the EU could boost growth by one percent and employment by 0.5 percent.
The investment services directive will allow investment firms to operate anywhere in the EU if they are authorised in their home state, thereby opening up the market.
It will also allow firms to trade shares outside the stock exchanges, which is currently not possible in France, Italy and Spain.
The transparency directive, on the other hand, will force companies listed on the stockmarket to publish interim statements between their half-year and full-year reports.
This should give investors more information before deciding whether or not to invest in the company and is also considered a crucial part of the EU's "Financial Services Action Plan".
However, companies will not have to produce quarterly reports as was originally proposed by the Commission.
Good news for all, says Commission
Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein welcomed the agreement, which is the culmination of a long process of negotiation between various institutions.
Mr Bolkestein said, "I am very pleased that the Parliament has endorsed this important measure ... today's vote is more bad news for financial wide boys and that means good news for ethical operators, for the markets as a whole and for Europe's economy".
Both directives now have to be passed by finance ministers and EU member states will then have up to 18 months to pass them into national laws.