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France accused of obstructing foreign insurers

The European Commission is taking France to court for the second time and seeking daily penalties of £150,000 for non-compliance with EU law on the regulation of life insurance companies.

The EU believes that France&#39s actions are discriminatory and run counter to the single market by favouring France&#39s mutuals and stopping other insurance companies from accessing its market.

The Third Insurance Directives should have been implemented by December 31, 1993.

France was taken to the European Court of Justice over the issue in 1999 but has not yet complied with the judgment that it had failed to comply with its obligations.

The directives set basic regulatory standards, including prudential requirements for insurance companies, separation of insurance business from other commercial activities and bringing reinsurance agreements into line with the rest of Europe.

The move follows the protracted infringement proceedings against France for refusing to allow the importation of British beef and a legal challenge to its Sangatte refugee camp in Calais.

The European Commission emphasises that it is not trying to interfere with member states&#39 social security policy.

The EC says: “In view of the seriousness and duration of this infringement, the Commission has decided to ask the court to impose on France a daily penalty payment of E242,650 (£154,000).”

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