>Published: February 11 2005 02:00 | Last updated: February 11 2005 02:00
The single market has produced huge benefits for the citizens of the European Union and its businesses. Yet important sectors remain resistant to the benefits of cross-border integration - including retail banking. The European Commission is therefore to be commended for its efforts to dismantle the barriers to the emergence of a European banking market, against stiff opposition from national politicians.
The Commission has already ended the public guarantees that under- pinned the dominance in Germany of its regional public sector banks. After many years of political resistance, the Landesbanken will lose their privileged position in July. A shake-up in retail banking has already begun, opening opportunities for the private sector banks whose share of the market was pegged back by this unfair competition.
Yet those private sector banks are now facing bitter criticism from German politicians as they restructure in