Eus finance chief wants more competition in retail financial services

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Nov 18 The European Union should open up retail financial services to more competition to bring lower prices for consumers who will also then see how EU membership can produce tangible benefits, the bloc's new financial chief said on Tuesday. Jonathan Hill, European financial services commissioner since Nov. 1, pointed to liberalisation of telecoms as an example where EU action has pushed down the price of a cross-border mobile phone call, one of the EU's most popular policy moves. EU legislation has also helped low-cost airlines Ryanair and easyJet to shake-up air travel across the continent to bring down fares.

"Can we apply those lessons in the sphere of financial services? And if so, how? Competition gives consumers choice," Hill said in a speech in Brussels. He said prising open financial services to more competition would also bring wider political benefits at a time when anti-EU political parties are in the ascendancy.

"The EU's legitimacy depends on the continued provision of tangible benefits to the public. Retail financial services and consumer policy is, I believe, an area where we can do exactly that," Hill said. The retail financial service industry in the European Union is still fragmented and regulated along national lines, with products reflecting long-established cultural idiosyncracies.

Hill said that travel insurance in Britain was 55 euros