Aug 26

SUMMARY REPORT ON THE CONFERENCE IN GSTAAD (1 – 3 MARCH 2007)

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„THE EUROPEAN INQUIRIES AND FUTURE POLITICS IN THE ENERGY AND FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTORS“
The conference started on Thursday evening with a fine cheese fondue dinner in the cosy “Fromagerie” of the hotel Palace where almost all the speakers and some of the participants were present.

On Friday, the first part of the morning session dealt with the results of the sector inquiries of the European Commission in the energy and financial ser-vices.
Robert Klotz of DG Competition, unit electricity and gas, detailed the process of the energy inquiry and the areas it was focused on. The main results of the inquiry were that there is still high concentration, vertical foreclosure and poor cross-border activity on the various energy markets. A stricter application of competition rules and regulatory measures shall serve as remedies to eliminate the deficiencies in the energy market.

Elke Gräper of the financial services unit in DG Competition, gave an over-view of the two main topics of the financial services inquiry i.e. retail banking and business insurance. The preliminary findings in retail banking were: extremely fragmented markets, customer immobility, highly varying degrees of concentration, prices, selling patterns and profitability, but also partly high fees and barriers regarding access to infrastructures. In the business insurance area the inquiry stated as main problems sustained differences of insurer’s underwriting profitability, risks of foreclosure, “best terms and conditions” clauses in reinsurance and co-insurance, conflicts of interests for certain insurance intermediaries ad lack of transparency of intermediaries’s remuneration. The final report on the business insurance sector is expected to be published in September 2007.

Prof. Walter Stoffel explained in a very illustrative presentation the Swiss competition policy in a European context and the practice of his authority in the various sectors, in particular in the energy and financial services sector.
The morning session was closed by a panel which was chaired by Prof. Helmuth Schröter. The panel included the speakers as well as two eminent lawyers in the energy and financial services areas, Mr. Frank Schoeneveld, McDermott Will & Emery, and David Wood, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

In the afternoon session, Alejo Vidal Quadras, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Christopher Jones, deputy head of the Cabinet of Commissioner Andris Piebalgs presented interesting ideas on the future politics of the EU and expected developments in the EC legal framework in the energy sector. The same topics, but for the financial services sector,, were explained by the Director Financial Institutions of DG Internal Market, Elemer Tertak and José Maria Roldàn Alegre, Director General Banking Regulations of the Banco España.

Also the afternoon session was closed by an interesting panel, including the speakers and the same two international lawyers D. Wood and F. Schoeneveld and chaired by Jacques Steenbergen, Professor at the University of Leuven.

In the evening a gala dinner took place honoured by a speech of Mr. Ambassador Michael Reiterer, head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Switzerland.

But it was not all hard work …

Dr. Philipp Zurkinden, Bern

Language
English