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24 February 2003

Bolkestein speech on EU-US regulatory cooperation on financial markets

Speech by Frits Bolkestein Member of the European Commission in charge of the Internal Market and Taxation EU-US regulatory co-operation on financial markets: A matter of necessity Breakfast meeting at European American Business Council Washington D.C. , 24th February 2003

“A year ago, officials from the European Commission and a range of US authorities started to meet on a regular and informal basis in what is now known as the Financial Markets Dialogue”, Commissioner Bolkestein said. “Firstly, we are looking to exchange information on legislative and regulatory developments, and secondly, there are issues that need immediate action to build confidence in the process.”

On the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Bolkestein criticized the many open issues, such as access to working papers and registration with the new oversight board. “For our part, we have tried to resolve US concerns over our Financial Conglomerates Directive. We want an urgent start on resolving the limitations on the right of exchanges to offer their services to investors on the other side of the Atlantic 'trading screens'. The SEC has promised us a paper on a conditional exemption or rule change. Nevertheless, we have been waiting for nine months … and are getting impatient for its delivery.”

In the longer run barriers have to be removed on both sides, which implies three fundamental issues, Bolkestein stated. “Firstly it will mean co-operating with each other to a far greater degree than we do at present, on a daily or weekly basis. Secondly, we need to converge on common principles and understandings. The work on converging International Accounting Standards and US GAAP is an excellent example of this. But at the core of our relations in this area is one single concept: regulatory equivalence, although reaching agreement on regulatory equivalence across all these areas is a huge task.”

Full speech

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