Virtual currencies have been analysed and considered by numerous policymakers at the EU level. According to the European Central Bank, the legal definition of 'virtual currencies' tends to vary depending on the context, while the European Banking Authority defines them as a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or public authority nor necessarily attached to a fiat currency, but used as a means of exchange and transferred, stored or traded electronically.
The European Commission recently published a legislative proposal amending the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive to modify creditor hierarchy in insolvency with a view to facilitating the resolution of EU credit institutions. The proposal, which was fast tracked, resulted in the adoption of EU Directive 2017/2399, which amends the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive as regards the ranking of debt instruments in insolvency.
The Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) recently became fully operative. Pursuant to the SSM, the European Central Bank becomes the central prudential supervisor of financial institutions in the eurozone (including approximately 6,000 banks), with the possibility to extend the scope of its activity to cover EU member states outside the eurozone which choose to join the SSM.
The Cypriot bail-out has sent further shockwaves through the periphery of the eurozone. However, a proposed EU directive establishing a framework for the recovery and resolution of banks and investment firms may make it more difficult in future for EU member state governments to raid retail depositors' savings to bail out banks.
FIN-USE, an expert panel set up by the European Commission to help improve policy making in the financial services field, recently reported its findings to the commission. Its first brief was to comment, from a user perspective, on the four stocktaking group reports produced in May 2004 on integration in the fields of banking, asset management, securities and insurance.
An informal meeting of economics and finance ministers recently requested the European Commission to study the obstacles to cross-border mergers and acquisitions in the wholesale and retail banking sectors. The commission will also review the provisions of the Credit Institutions Directive which allow member states to block mergers and acquisitions on prudential grounds.
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a new Anti-money Laundering Directive, which will repeal and replace the current directive to widen the categories of persons and offences covered by the EU legislation. The proposal will also update the existing rules by bringing them into line with recent international developments in the fight against money laundering.
The European Commission has proposed a new capital requirements framework for banks and investment firms. The aim is to ensure the coherent application throughout the European Union of a new international capital requirements framework agreed at the end of June 2004 by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (Basel II).
The European Commission published reports by groups of experts on the extent of financial integration in banking, insurance, securities and asset management. The purpose was to assess progress in removing barriers to the provision of services, the performance of financial transactions and the organization of business on a cross-border basis.
The European Parliament recently adopted the report of the Legal Affairs and Internal Markets Committee amending the European Commission's proposed amendment to the EU Consumer Credit Directive. It has introduced several key changes to the proposal, including a provision excluding loans below €500 or over €100,000 from the directive's scope of application.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has reported to the European Commission on the financial and macroeconomic consequences of the draft new capital requirements for banks and investment firms. The study reviews the impact of the capital adequacy standards proposed by the Basel Committee on banking supervision and the proposed revised capital adequacy requirements being prepared by the commission.
The European Commission recently announced the launch of an in-depth assessment of the state of integration of European financial markets. It has also launched a package of seven measures with the aim of enabling the European Union to respond more quickly to developments in the financial sector.
The European Commission has announced its plans to set up an expert forum to look at financial services policies from the perspective of users. This initiative shows the commission's recognition of the need for a closer dialogue with users of retail financial services.
Following the adoption of the Regulation on Cross-border Payments in Euro, which applies to bank transfers from July 1 2003, the European Commission has begun work on a new legal framework which should facilitate work on the single euro payment area.
The European Commission has published the results of its third consultation on the new capital requirements framework for banks and investment firms. The draft rules provide for a standardized approach based on the current rules, but with increased risk sensitivity. This includes lower requirements for retail loans and for residential mortgages.
The Italian Council Presidency, which has taken over the rotating EU presidency, has pledged to continue work on the Financial Services Action Plan, which aims to create a single market in financial services. It also intends to foster EU-US relations in relation to financial markets.
The European Commission has published its eighth progress report on the Financial Services Action Plan. It highlights a number of recent steps towards the completion of the plan, with 34 of the 42 proposed measures now adopted.
The European Commission has published its Internal Market Strategy 2003-2006. Among other things, the strategy highlights the need to complete the Financial Services Action Plan and to make more progress in creating an internal market in retail financial services.
A Centre for European Policy Studies report opposes the adoption of a new directive in order to eliminate barriers to improving the single market for asset management firms. It favours fuller use of existing directives rather than the adoption of a 'horizontal' directive to regulate differences across the five sectors - including banking – in which different asset management regimes prevail.
The European Commission recently published the results of the consultation exercise aimed at ensuring that the future revised Directive on Capital Requirements takes into account industry-wide interests. The review aims to bring the framework governing capital requirements for bank and investment firms into line with the modern financial services market.