European Union finance ministers have endorsed common disclosure requirements to make it easier and cheaper to raise capital across the 15-nation bloc.
The new rules are intended to clarify the current maze of administrative provisions. This is to be done by allowing issuers to sell bonds and shares anywhere in the EU through a single disclosure document or prospectus.
At the moment, companies and banks are frequently required to publish a prospectus in each of the 15 EU countries - an expensive procedure.
The rules will also standardise the content of prospectuses so as to improve the information offered to potential investors.
The European Parliament adopted the new rules on July 2 and as a result, the ministers' endorsement had been largely anticipated.
"The (prospectus) directive was adopted by qualified majority voting," Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, who chaired the meeting, said during a televised conference.
The new rules are seen as central to the EU's plan to integrate its financial services market by 2005.