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Keeping A Watch On Money, Keeping Safe, And Breathing The Air

  • June 21st, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

eu-flag-site.pngEuropean authorities have been struggling to clamp down on illegal movements of money, while at the same time trying to keep the single market open and flexible for ordinary borrowers and investors.

WATCH WHAT YOU HAVE I N THE LITTLE BLACK BAG

Travellers entering or leaving the European Union from now on will have to disclose amounts of cash they are carrying over EU 10 000 (A$ 15876; yahoo 20.6.07). This stricture on high-rollers, hardly the small family group on holiday, is the latest in moves by European authorities to standardise controls against money laundering or financing of terrorist activities. It complements an EU law, the Money Laundering Directive, which has introduced monitoring of transactions made through credit and financial institutions.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BANKS?

A further move is designed to help customers with legitimate interests, to get more flexible service from some of those institutions, specifically their retail banks. An expert group has reported on problems that consumers encounter, trying to switch bank account or open new accounts across borders. The European Commission says it ants flexibility, not obstacles in its single market, and has put up 37 recommendations fro m the expert group for a period of consultation, running through to September. For those with some banking background, the expert group considered certain main obstacles: information asymmetry and non-transparency of prices, administrative burden, bundling and tying and closing charges. A similar, recent initiative was the production of a standard, whereby all consumer borrowing in the EU will be done through the same type of form; a move intended to encourage people to break the habit of staying just in their own country when looking for a loan or overdraught facility.
MOVE ON CORRUPTION IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Financial nefariousness again is under scrutiny at Brussels, i n the shape of a watch on the behaviour of companies, and corrupt practices. While the EU states number some of the “cleanest” listed players internationally, their systems are far from immune to corruption and as a leading trade bloc representatives of the European Union come into regular contact with criminal practices. The European Commission has made public a complaint (18.6.07) against its member countries, for not moving to implement Europe-wide anti-corruption legislation. It says members have not yet criminalised “all circumstances in which corruption may occur in the private sector”, such as making it a criminal offence to bribe a business intermediary. It says only one country, the United Kingdom, was in full compliance with the new standard; (raising some questions about its effectiveness from British media pursuing their government over alleged corrupt dealing in the sale of warplanes to Saudi Arabia).

TWO “POSITIVES” BEING PROMOTED IN EUROPE

Two more countries, Austria and Germany, have committed to install eCall, an automatic notification system for road accidents which, it is estimated, may save 2500 lives a year once adopted across all of Europe. Ten countries have previously joined up for the system, with authorities pressing car makers to equip all new vehicles for it by 2010. In the event of an accident the new electronic system will automatically send off a call to the European emergency number, 112, indicating the location of the car in trouble.

Congratulations have gone out to industry, public authorities and householders following the release of figures on air pollution. Levels of greenhouse gas emissions fell by 0.7% in 2005. The drop means that output of carbon dioxide is down by 2% p.a. since 1990, in the fifteen European Union countries which collectively signed on to the Kyoto accord. The goal is to get the level to 8% less, from 2008 onward. The European Commission said reductions had been made across a wide field, from electricity and heat production, households and services, and road transport.

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