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Oslo, Norway, 25/02/2008 Statement by JosĂŠ Manuel BARROSO President of the European Commission on sovereign walth funds

Sovereign wealth funds are managing vast assets, up to two and half trillion US dollars. And they are growing. Sovereign wealth funds offer opportunities. They are not a big bad wolf at the door. For example, the current financial turmoil shows that sovereign wealth funds can help stabilise financial markets. So we want to maintain an open investment environment, in Europe and worldwide. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund is exemplary in terms of transparency, governance and accountability. It is often seen as the gold standard of sovereign wealth funds. Frankly, we would like some others to look at your example and move towards the rigorous standards that apply here. We certainly do not propose any restrictions on the operations of the Norwegian fund. But there are real concerns over some aspects of the way some other funds operate. Europe-based public and private investment funds are subject to stringent rules on governance and disclosure – we cannot allow non-European funds to be run in an opaque manner or used as an implement of geopolitical strategy. The Commission will bring forward proposals to address these concerns on Wednesday this week. These will then be discussed by EU leaders at the Spring European Council on 13-14 March. We will propose a common approach at European level, avoiding distorting the single market with incompatible national responses. This EU level approach should benefit both investor and recipient countries. We will not propose European legislation. Though we reserve the right to do so if we cannot achieve transparency through voluntary means. We will be proposing a cooperative effort between recipient countries and sovereign wealth funds and their sponsor countries to establish a set of principles for transparency, predictability and accountability. This EU approach must also serve as a contribution to the IMF efforts to set up a global code of conduct for sovereign wealth funds and their owners. We would like to see agreement on that by the end of this year. Norway is uniquely well placed to play a constructive role in this debate and I know you will continue to do so.

Oslo, Norway, 25/02/2008  

This EU approach must also serve as a contribution to the IMF efforts to set up a global code of conduct for sovereign wealth funds and thei...

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