Category Archives: ECONOMY

EU: new rules for insurance products

The Commission has laid down rules for an Insurance Product Information Document (IPID), which will have to accompany all non-life insurance policies from 2018. These new rules will allow consumers to have all information necessary to make an informed decision when buying insurance products, such as car, travel or house insurance.

This type of key information document already exists for life insurance policy and other investment products under the Regulation on Key Information Documents for Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products (PRIIPs). The implementing rules adopted today, in the form of an implementing technical standard (ITS), stem from the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) which must be applied in the EU Member States in February 2018.The IDD aims to create a level playing field between insurance distributors across the European Union. It will guarantee that customers get the same standards of choice and service when buying insurance, regardless of the Member State in which the insurance was bought. The Directive will ensure appropriate standards of transparency by setting out the necessary information to be provided to consumers before they sign up to an insurance contract. Further implementing rules for the IDD will be adopted in the coming weeks. These will coverproduct oversight and governance (for all insurance products) and various conduct of business rules(for life insurance products).

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G20 Summit: the Paris Agreement is irreversible

On 7-8 July, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met with other Group of Twenty (G20) leaders for a summit in Hamburg, Germany. This was the first such global meeting following the announcement by the US Administration of its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Globalisation and technological change have contributed significantly to driving economic growth and raising living standards across the globe. However, globalisation has created challenges and its benefits have not been shared widely enough. By bringing together developed and emerging market economies, the G20 is determined to shape globalisation to benefit all people. Most importantly, we need to better enable our people to seize its opportunities.

EU is resolved to tackle common challenges to the global community, including terrorism, displacement, poverty, hunger and health threats, job creation, climate change, energy security, and inequality including gender inequality, as a basis for sustainable development and stability. We will continue to work

together with others, including developing countries, to address these challenges, building on the rules- based international order.

Expanding on the results of previous presidencies, in particular the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou, EU decided to take concrete actions to advance the three aims of building resilience, improving sustainability and assuming responsibility.

Greece awaiting debt relif

Debt relief for Greece will be looked into at the next Eurogroup meeting on 22 May, according to Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The president of the informal body of the eurozone’s finance ministers made the announcement during a plenary debate in Parliament on 27 April. He also apologised to MEPs about recent remarks that proved controversial.

Dijsselbloem attended a plenary debate on the second review of the economic adjustment programme for the country. The Eurogroup president said debt relief was a possibility: “Last year we gave that commitment to come back to this issue of [debt] sustainability for Greece because that’s the only way they will come back on a sustainable path and a sustainable economic future.”

Economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who also took part in the debate, added:  “The Commission will continue to support efforts to make Greek debt more sustainable. We believe it’s necessary and possible.”

Greece is currently in the middle of its third bailout programme since the financial crisis. On 2 May, Greece reached a preliminary technical agreement with its creditors, which means the country is set to have the next tranche of funding approved in time for its next debt repayments of €6 billion in July.

Greece’s primary budget surplus, an important indicator of the country’s public finances, increased to 3.9% last year, beating all the creditors’ targets, according to data from Eltat , the national statistics service.

During the debate in plenary Roberto Gualtieri, an Italian member of the S&D group, said the news about the primary surplus for 2016 showed that the Greek economy was at a turning point and urged the next Eurogroup meeting to formally conclude the current review and address debt relief.

Ska Keller, the German chairs of the Greens/EFA group,  said that now that Athens had delivered, it was time for the Eurogroup to do its part and give Greece its debt relief.

Two Greek MEPs – ECR member Notis Marias GUE/NGL member Dimitrios Papadimoulis – both highlighted the current devastating state of the Greek economy with Marias calling it a “social cemetery”.

Apart from the economic situation in Greece, MEPs addressed recent controversial statements by Dijsselbloem  in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he was quoted as saying about southern European countries: “You cannot spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help.”

“I really regret the comments you made recently on southern countries because the social distress that many of our citizens are suffering deserves more than that,” – Françoise Grossetête, a French member of the EPP group, said.

“Many members of the Parliament have been very critical about my remarks, and of course I fully accept that. The choice of words has been unfortunate and people have been offended and I regret that,” – Dijsselbloem replied.

Schaeuble: EU needs flexible speeds

It is not realistic to take further steps towards European Union integration at this point and after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc its remaining members must be ready to form ‘coalitions of the willing’, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

“Given the current situation, it is not realistic to think that we can take further steps towards deepening European integration at the moment,” he said on Thursday on the sidelines of International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington.

“We need to respond to urgent questions in a way that is visibly European, and we need to find European solutions to acute problems,” he added, “We need flexible speeds, variable groupings of countries, ‘coalitions of the willing’, whatever you want to call it in a particular situation.”

Juncker calls Tsipras to speed up reforms pace

“I have read the letter of the Prime Minister with great attention”.

“I can sympathise with the European spirit and with the plea for a return to normality after so many efforts by the Greek people. For me, there is no doubt that the EU social acquis applies to Greece as to any other EU Member State,” – says Statement by President Juncker on Prime Minister Tsipras’ letter on the occasion of the Social Summit.

“This is why I went on record with Prime Minister Tsipras already in May 2015 to state my support for fair and effective collective bargaining systems. This is why the Commission conducted a social impact assessment of the new programme before it was finalised in August 2015. And this is why, when it comes to labour market reforms, we pushed for a group of independent experts to make recommendations in the light of European and international best practices.”

“These experts issued their report last autumn and we stand behind their recommendations. Some of them are straightforward when it comes to applying the law. Others are more open when it comes to practical arrangements or ways of working. This is because, as the report rightly recalls, and we all know it, there is no “one-size-fit-all” in the social acquis or in the economic textbook when it comes to organising collective bargaining. Let me add that there is no place for ideology either.”

“From experience, and I have experts around the table, what matters most is not how the system is conceived on paper, but what the social partners make of it, through their ability to engage jointly, autonomously and together with public authorities.”

“These issues are part of the discussion on the second review of the programme for Greece and I agree that it is in everyone’s interest to conclude it rapidly. We are not far away: significant progress has been made over the last weeks and again over the last days until late last night.”

“I believe we should reach a deal which respects the commitments made on all sides at the start of the programme: the commitments of the Greek authorities not to reverse reforms agreed in the past to preserve competitiveness. The commitment of the creditors to give Greece the desired and necessary room for manœuvre to build its own future. All this in respect of the social acquis, of which we are a guardian.”

“I think all actors should work responsibly towards achieving a staff level agreement as quickly as possible. The next rendez-vous point should be at the Eurogroup on 7th April. Ideally, we should be in a position to present a staff level agreement by then and we will continue to support you to that end.”

“I invite everyone to pursue their work in this spirit.”

 

Sturgeon for second referendum for Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon demanded a new independence referendum in late 2018 or early 2019, once the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union have become clearer.

A vote that could tear apart the United Kingdom just months before Brexit would become a negative factor in the two-year process of leaving the EU after more than four decades.

“If Scotland is to have a real choice – when the terms of Brexit are known but before it is too late to choose our own course – then that choice must be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019,”- Sturgeon said to reporters.

The intention cause a wave  of irony from the internauts:

Is EU Regulation Ready for Fintech?

money-exchange

Serge Turbin, OPINION

Fintech is a booming sector at the intersection of financial services and technology. Increasingly, fintech startups and technology companies are entering the marketplace traditionally reserved for large financial institutions and intermediaries, such as banks and insurance companies. From TransferWise to Funding Circle, fintech firms are disrupting the status quo, by offering new products and services powered by digital technology. Fintech solutions are also widely impacting productivity, efficiency and innovation in other sectors and parts of society.

There is a huge potential for technological innovation, but it is exactly the financial sector that remains most heavily regulated by definition. Quite often, the policy solutions developed for the industrial reality of the 20th century come clashing with the present-day developments of the digital age. Fintech faces a complex regulatory environment that was designed for older business models and is slow to adopt change and embrace such developments and technologies as blockchain, algorithms and artificial intelligence, data analytics and the like.

Many countries launched policy initiatives to address the challenges and leverage the opportunities offered by fintech. The United Kingdom, an incontestable fintech leader in Europe, has developed a consistent approach to support the development of fintech. The Financial Conduct Authority engages constructively with innovative businesses, and seeks to remove unnecessary barriers to innovation. The Innovation Hub helps innovative businesses gain access to fast, frank feedback on the regulatory implications of their concepts, plans, and choices, so that new and established businesses are able to introduce innovative financial products and services to the market. Advice Unit provides regulatory feedback to firms developing automated models to deliver lower cost advice to consumers. And the regulatory sandbox is a programme allowing fintech firms test their innovative products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a controlled environment. With a view on the Brexit prospects, the French regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers, is pursuing its commitment to making the Paris financial market more appealing by launching AGILITY, a programme devoted to guiding financial firms through the French authorisation process. It will provide a range of services, notably helping financial firms authorised in the UK set up in France.

The European Commission realises the need to develop a pan-European regulatory response and a common approach to fintech. On 14 November 2016, it launched a Task Force on Financial Technology that aims to assess and make the most of innovation in this area, while also developing strategies to address the potential challenges that fintech poses. This internal task force brings together the expertise of Commission staff across several areas, such as: financial and digital services, digital innovation and security, competition and consumer protection. Fintech gained prominence in the mid-term review of the Capital Markets Union – the Juncker Commission’s flagship initiative of reducing fragmentation in financial markets, diversifying financing sources, strengthening cross-border capital flows and improving access to finance for businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises. The findings of the Task Force on Financial Technology will be presented at a high-level conference “#FinTechEU: Is EU Regulation Fit for New Financial Technologies?” on 23 March 2017. European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, overseeing the dossier, has signalled that the executive is cautious about overregulating the nascent sector. Rather than preparing a wide-ranging policy package on fintech, the European Commission will adopt a watchful policy response, sharing best national practices and introducing minor amendments in the existing laws.

Illustration: Marinus van Reymerswaele, The Money-changer and his Wife, 1540,

 

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