Område: Finansielle tjenester
Bakgrunn (fra Kommisjonens meddelelse, engelsk utgave)
Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) are generally defined as state-owned investment vehicles,
which manage a diversified portfolio of domestic and international financial assets. Their
origin dates back to the 1950s, when some major commodity exporting countries, particularly
oil-rich countries, were looking for a way to invest funds originated by foreign exchange
assets. While they have existed for more than fifty years, over the past decade they have
rapidly expanded to become a source of investment of systemic importance. They can offer a
source of investment and market liquidity at a time of real pressure. Yet, as state-owned
investment vehicles, some can raise questions about the risk that these investments may
interfere with the normal functioning of market economies. All projections expect SWFs to
continue growing fast in size and number: a rapid growth that intensifies both the
opportunities they offer and the concerns they inspire.
It is therefore not surprising that the rise of SWFs has attracted attention in several developed
economies and triggered a debate within international fora. Within the EU, several Member
States are looking at whether to make their own policy response.
The commitment to openness to investments and free movement of capital has been a long
standing principle of the EU and is key to success in an increasingly globalised international
system. As the world's leading trader and the largest source as well as the largest destination
of foreign direct investments, the EU is a major beneficiary of an open world economic
system. It is committed to ensuring that its markets remain open for investment (1).
The legitimate interests of citizens and market operators in Europe, as well as the benefits of
certainty to the SWFs themselves, point to the need for increased transparency, predictability
and coherence in this area. As a leading global player, the EU has both the capacity and the
incentive to promote a common response to the challenges posed by SWFs and to play in full
its role in the ongoing debate within global economic fora. This common approach should be
seen as a complement to the prerogatives of Member States regarding the use of national
legislation in conformity with the Treaty.
This communication addresses the issues posed by SWFs as a specific category of crossborder
investments. It shows how a common approach can strike the right balance between
addressing concerns about SWFs and maintaining the shared benefits of an open investment
(1) This case is set out in detail in "Global Europe: competing in the world" - COM(2006) 567, 4.10.2006 - and in "The European Interest: Succeeding in the age of globalisation" - COM(2007) 581, 3.10.2007.