REAL ESTATE – The European Commission has decided to set up an expert group to advice it on open-ended real estate funds.

"The group will advise the Commission on how to improve the European market for these funds and on whether EU-level action in this area would deliver benefits for industry and investors," the Commission said in a statement.

It added: "It will also explore cost-effective ways to achieve those benefits.

Real estate fund specialists interested in becoming members of the group are invited to apply by April 27, with the final composition of the group set to be named before the end of May.

The move is a follow-up to the White Paper on enhancing the EU framework for investment funds.

"Open-ended real estate funds are widely available to retail investors in several Member States," said Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy.

"But they are locked up in their national markets – they cannot be sold across borders. I am creating this expert group to look at this situation and to advise on whether there is any clear-cut case for EU action in this area. I have an open mind on this issue. The group's work will feed into our broader review of the state of integration for non-harmonised funds, where are scheduled to issue a report in mid-2008."

The expert group will produce a report at the start of 2008 that will provide important input to policy reflection and serve as a starting point for debate and discussion with Member State authorities and other stakeholders.