Balls warns EU states of single market delays

Ed Balls, minister of the City of London, has sharply criticised Britain's European partners for dragging their feet over the creation of a single market in financial services.

In a letter to the EU's markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy, Mr Balls warned that failure to implement the Mifid directive - that creates the single market - on time would undermine the "competitiveness and reputation of Europe's markets and financial services industry". He also urged the commissioner to maintain pressure on member states to ensure they met implementation deadlines. So far only Britain and Romania have implemented Mifid into their laws, with the other 22 EU member states missing the deadline of 31 January.

The directive is supposed to take effect at the end of November.

Mr McCreevy himself warned that member states could face legal action from private parties if they lost money because of late implementation. "I urge member states to keep to the timetable that they themselves have agreed," he said. "Further delays could well expose Europe's firms and banks to serious competitive disadvantage."

Mr Balls has already announced the publication of the paper, "Britain & Europe - a City Minister's perspective", in which he will argue that "hard-headed pro-Europeanism" is the approach Britain must take when engaging with Europe. He said his approach to Mifid was an example of this. "Getting the best deal for the UK, which will also benefit Europe, through constructive engagement, winning the debate and having the confidence to be public and express concerns when Europe is taking the wrong course," he said.

Source: The Independent


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