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Proposals to enhance supervision over the European Financial Sector; the so-called financial package

EU News   22. 12. 2009 Link

On 23 September 2009, the European Commission presented legislative proposals to enhance supervision over the European Financial Sector. The proposals are based on a report by Jacques de Larosièr, the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and his recommendations, which define a more efficient and integrated supervisory framework that would operate on a cross-border, European level. The new supervision architecture focuses on future sustainable reinforcement of financial stability throughout the entire EU, harmonising rules and creating coherent supervisory practice and enforcement, identifying systemic risks in early stage, enhancing cooperation in extraordinary circumstances and resolving disputes, if any, between supervisory authorities.

Avoiding Financial Crises – Stricter Capital Rules on Banks

EU News   22. 12. 2009 Link

Directive 2009/111/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 amending Directives 2006/48/EC, 2006/49/EC and 2007/64/EC as regards banks affiliated to central institutions, certain own funds items, large exposures, supervisory arrangements, and crisis management took force on 7 December 2009.

The Directive amendment applicable to capital requirements is primarily a response to shortcomings revealed by the financial crisis, one of them being the due functioning of the supervision over cross-border bank groups; the major changes thus do not involve only banks and other regulated parties, but the very regulators themselves. The other areas to which the amendment applies include exposure rules, liquidity risk management, application of hybrid capital instruments in capital management and the requirements for securitization transactions.

Free-of-Charge Allowances in the New Emission Trading System

EU News   22. 12. 2009 Link

At the end of September, the European Commission published a draft list of sectors which could receive free of charge up to 100% of emission allowances even after 2013; in 2013, the European greenhouse gas emission trading system is to enter into a new stage in which the free-of-charge allocation of allowances based on the National Allocation Plans shall be replaced by the purchasing thereof in Europe-wide auctions. However, revised Directive 2003/87/ES approved within the climate-energy package in December of last year counts on some exemptions. One of them shall apply to industries which may, as a result of more stringent constraints, move outside of the EU to third countries in which climate protection is not that strict; such industry relocation would not only result in a loss for the EU economy but it would also negate the endeavours for emission reduction which would increase uncontrollably in such third countries.

Reduced Information Obligations in the Case of Mergers and Divisions

EU News   22. 12. 2009 Link

Directive 2009/109/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September amending Council Directives 77/91/EEC, 78/855/EEC and 82/891/EEC, and Directive 2005/56/EC as regards reporting and documentation requirements in the case of mergers and divisions (published in Official Journal No. L 259) was adopted on 16 September 2009. It is yet another Commission measure to support business and enhance the competitiveness of companies by reducing the administrative burden and the costs resulting therefrom. The new legislation also leaves it up to the companies or their shareholders to decide what reports they actually need. The simplified reporting and documentation requirements is primarily reflected in the Third (78/855/EEC) and Sixth (82/891/EEC) Company Directive which apply to, and lay down the rules for, national mergers and divisions.

Internet gambling restrictions permissible

EU News   22. 12. 2009 Link

Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-42/07- reference for a preliminary ruling - Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional, Bwin International Ltd, (Bwin) vs. Departamento de Jogos da Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa  (Santa Casa)

Scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading

EU News   22. 12. 2009 Link

Decision by the Court of First Instance dated 23 September 2009 re. T‑183/07 Poland v the Commission of the European Communities and re T‑263/07 Estonia v the Commission of the European Communities

The Court of First Instance stated in the decisions referred to above that the European Commission has no right to order Member States on the amount of greenhouse gas emission allowances that they may issue in a given period. The Commission is therefore afraid of the verdict having a substantially adverse impact on the EU strategy for combating climate changes.

The liberalization of energy markets approved

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

At the end of April the European Parliament passed in the second reading the energy package dealing with the further functioning of the single EU energy market, mainly the strengthening of its competitiveness and security. In the hitherto most controversial issue of fission energy companies, the members of Parliament receded from the original strict requirement of full ownership unbundling of production capacity from the transmission networks owned. The approved compromise also brings a strengthening of consumers’ rights.

EU regulates hedge funds and other alternative funds

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

European Commission, after long-term reluctance to intervene in this sector of financial markets, finally presented a proposal for a Directive on managers of alternative investment funds at the end of April. The draft applies to all funds not covered by Directive 85/611 (the so-called UCITS Directive) and encompasses hedge funds, so-called private equity funds, commodities and real estate funds and special funds for professional investors.

Requirements for remuneration policy in financial services sector

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

On 29 April 2009 the European Commission issued the Recommendation on remuneration policy in the financial services sector (Official Journal L 120/2009). Uniform principles apply to all companies operating in this sector and should be applied primarily to employees whose job description has a substantial impact on the risk profile of the company. The remuneration policy will also be subject to the supervisor’s assessment. The Recommendation is not legally binding but the Commission envisages the adoption of regulations that will reflect the main requirements of the remuneration policy. Member States should take the necessary measures to implement the Recommendation by the end of this year.

Remuneration of directors of listed companies

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

The European Commission has also completed in a form of a Recommendation the existing system of remuneration of directors of listed companies (Official Journal L 120/2009). The Commission asserts basic principles that are the same as the remuneration in the financial sectors: focus on long-term sustainability instead of short-term results, elimination of excessive payment incommensurate with performance, simplifying the pay structure and its transparency. Other requirements relate to the principles of payment of the so-called "golden parachutes" and bonuses in the form of shares or share options.

Revision of Fourth and Seventh Directives - requirements in accounting reduced

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

Directive of European Parliament and Council 2009/49 of 18 June 2009 (Official Journal L 164/2009) is a further step toward reducing the administrative burden on firms. It allows medium-sized companies to abolish the requirement to disclosure certain information in their accounting and also reduces the duty to prepare consolidated accounts and a consolidated annual report.

Amendment to regulatory framework (Solvency II) approved

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

European authorities have agreed on the compromise text of a Directive on the taking-up and pursuit of the business of Insurance and Reinsurance (Solvency II). Its main objective is to strengthen the stability of the insurance sector, to deepen its integration and competitiveness. The current 13 Directives relating to insurance and reinsurance have been recast into a single act. New and more elaborate rules of capital adequacy should better reflect the risks that insurance and reinsurance carry and ensure their sufficient coverage.

Assistance from globalization fund for staff redundancies caused by the crisis

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

An amendment to Regulation No 1927/2006 establishing the European Globalization Adjustment Fund (Official Journal L 167/2009) has temporarily extended the scope of this fund. It will be possible to finance from its resources support to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the current economic and financial crisis. The contribution for this purpose is available until the end of 2011. Concurrently the amendment has mitigated current intervention criteria.

Community trademark - a reduction in registration fees

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

Commission Regulation No 355/2009 (Official Journal L 109/2009) reduces the total amount of fees to be paid to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market for the registration of a Community trademark.

Failure to duly notify of intent to take over the company

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

Decision of the European Commission in the case of Electrabel (COMP/M.4994)

On 10 June 2009 the European Commission imposed a fine of 20 million EUR on the company Electrabel since it did not notify the Commission during its acquisition of Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (hereinafter "CNR") of this intention and thus failed to fulfil its obligations under Council Regulation No 139/2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings. This rule requires that the Commission be informed of the merger in advance in case those companies fall within the scope of the Regulation. The Commission may investigate whether a significant infringement of free competition within the European Union occurred by this merger.

Abuse of dominant position

EU News   31. 7. 2009 Link

Decision of the European Commission in the case of INTEL (COMP/37.990)

The European Commission has imposed a penalty in the amount of €1.06 billion on the computer microprocessor manufacturer Intel for the abuse of its dominant position (see Article 82 of the EC Treaty) on 13 May 2009.

The Commission ruled that Intel abused its dominant position on the market from October 2002 until December 2007 by being involved in two types of illegal conduct.

Liberalization of energy markets proceeds to second reading

EU News   9. 4. 2009 Link

One of the first sessions held by the Czech presidency was the session of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council during which the joint position to the energy liberalization package was approved. As expected, the Council did not endorse most of the draft amendments by the European Parliament which were adopted in the first reading held last year. Unbundling or separation of electricity generation from transmission systems continues to be one of the most controversial issues, having impact on all gas producers and electricity generators in the EU. 

Proposal for Directive on Industrial Emissions (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control)

EU News   9. 4. 2009 Link

The European Parliament approved in its March session the proposal for a directive on industrial emissions on first reading. The proposal suggests consolidating the current seven industrial-emission laws into a single act – directive on integrated pollution prevention and restriction (IPPR) and six industry laws – the so-called VOC, LCP, titanium dioxide and waste burning directives. The reasons for this change are not to merely eliminate difficulties and discrepancies in the current legal framework, but respond to the ever-increasing emission levels which pollute water, soil and air, in attempt to create a more efficient pan-European framework and standards for an integrated approach to prevention. 

Regulation on credit rating agencies

EU News   9. 4. 2009 Link

The European Commission presented a proposal at the end of last year as part of a package of proposals addressing the financial crisis. It was instigated by current insufficient control over the quality of work of rating agencies that many people believe fairly contributed to the current financial crisis. Credit rating has been subject to legislation primarily applicable to other aspects of financial markets (Directive No. 2003/6 on insider dealing and market manipulation and Directive No. 2006/49 on the capital adequacy of investment firms and credit institutions). 

SPE – a uniform company throughout the EU

EU News   9. 4. 2009 Link

The negotiations on the legal framework of a European Private Company (Societas Privata Europaea) progressed significantly during March. The European Parliament discussed and approved (subject to several amendments) the proposal on the statute for a European private company. 

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