Retail banking and insurance under EU microscope

The Commission is to carry out in-depth examinations of the retail banking and business insurance sectors to uncover possible breaches of competition rules.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes has weighed in to assist Charlie McCreevy’s push towards a single market for financial services in the EU with two sweeping investigations. 

Through his follow-up to the financial services action plan (see EURACTIV 3 May 2005) Internal Market Commissioner McCreevy has been working to remove regulatory barriers to cross-border financial trading. A competition inquiry gives extra bite, as it carries significant investigatory powers and allows enforcement action against specific companies, should restrictive practices or abuse of monopoly power be revealed.

The two in-depth probes, announced on 13 June 2005, will begin by looking at retail banking, in particular differences in fees charged for using credit and debit cards across borders. Investigation into business insurances will follow later in 2005. An interim report is expected before the end of the year.

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