0

The Harmony Trap

A widespread feeling exists that European integration is proceeding sideways, if not backwards. But in at least one field, real progress has been made: the Commission's endeavor to build a single market for financial services.

An ambitious Financial Services Action Plan - launched in 1999 to bring about a single European wholesale market, open and secure retail markets, and state-of-the-art prudential rules and supervision - envisaged 42 measures to be implemented by 2003-2005. After a slow start, rapid progress has been achieved, with 36 measures formally adopted, including important directives on market abuse, prospectuses, financial collateral, distance marketing, collective investment schemes, and a common set of International Accounting Standards for the consolidated accounts of all listed companies.