EUROPE – Roderick Munsters, chief investment officer of Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, was among a group of top European finance executives that met the European Commission to discuss clearing and settlement yesterday.

Munsters, alongside names such as ABN Amro’s Tom de Swaan, Allianz’s Joachim Faber and Crédit Agricole Asset Management’s Thierry Coste, met Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and his adviser Alberto Giovannini.

Giovannini is the author of two reports on the European clearing and settlement market.

“The discussion focused on the causes of excessive cross-border cost for post-trading services and possible future initiatives to decrease this cost to domestic levels,” said a Commission statement. The Commission’s consultation on the area began in 2001.

McCreevy said the Commission would decide in the second quarter of 2006 on measures to tackle the “persistent barriers” in the area.

The decision would be based on the Commission's impact assessment and “thorough consultations” with all parties concerned.

"The safety and efficiency of Europe's securities clearing and settlement systems are important for furthering the integration, proper functioning and competitiveness of capital markets,” McCreevy said.

He called cross-border post-trading arrangements in the EU “complex and fragmented” – which results in “higher risks, inefficiencies and higher costs”.

“This obviously puts cross-border investments at a disadvantage compared to domestic investments. This situation needs to be addressed: private and public sector bodies must act to trigger change. I had yesterday an open discussion with major users to discuss their objectives.

“I was very positively impressed by users’ convergence on the objectives to be pursued and by their determination and support for resolving the present difficulties. The important question now, is how to move forward.”