In the crosshairs

Author: | Published: 11 Jul 2011

Banks and other financial institutions are in the firing line for antitrust scrutiny by the European Commission (EC). The EC recently announced antitrust investigations in two new cases involving financial services, with two other cases reported in the press, and has proposed settlements in two long-standing cases.

Commissioner Almunia traveled to London to announce that the financial sector is one of his key enforcement priorities and that, in his view, regulation alone had proved insufficient to protect consumers.

"Whereas regulation tackles broad structural market failures, you need competition policy to tackle the harmful behaviour of individual market participants," said Almunia.

The EC's activism in the financial sector marks a significant shift in policy for a competition authority that has traditionally given the financial sector a wide berth, perhaps because it was content for sectoral regulators like the Financial Services Authority to take the lead in supervising the conduct of banks...