11.15.2019
By Shanny Basar

European Commission Could Extend UK Equivalence

The European Commission could extend the temporary equivalence given to UK central clearers following requests from market participants and fears for financial stability.

Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president for the € and social dialogue, financial services & markets at the EU Commission, said in a speech in London today that the UK’s departure is a loss for the European Union but preserving financial stability is a priority for both parties.

“We have worked together under the chairmanship of Mario Draghi and Mark Carney to identify and mitigate stability risks related to Brexit,” he added. “As you know, central clearing has been identified as a clear systemic risk in case of a no-deal Brexit.”

As a result the Commission last year granted UK clearing houses temporary equivalence until 30 March next year.

This week 14 financial trade associations had written to Dombrovskis highlighting the need for an urgent extension to the temporary equivalence determination.

The letter said: “Without such an extension, EU clearing members would not be able to continue as direct members of UK CCPs in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and EU counterparties would not be able to clear derivatives subject to the clearing obligation on those CCPs.”

The Association for Financial Markets in Europe welcomed the extension:

AFME had warned in a report in July that there needs to be more certainty over clearing. “Unless certainty is provided as to the extension of recognition, UK CCPs might be required to start off- boarding processes for EU27 members by the end of 2019,” said the study.

Catherine McGuinness, chair, policy and resources at the City of London Corporation, said in a statement: “Although there is a lot of work yet to be done on the long-term relationship, this extension would give much-needed breathing space in this area to work through the complex issues that remain.”

Sustainable finance

The main focus of Dombrovskis’ speech today was sustainable finance.

“We will need both public and private funding to pay for everything from small-scale energy efficiencies and innovative low-carbon transport systems to large sustainable infrastructure projects,” he added.

The new Commission will draw up a plan to unlock €1 trillion of sustainable investment in the region over the next decade and create regulatory incentives to stimulate private investment. Green finance initiatives could include incentivising green mortgage loans and expanding the EU ecolabel to financial products.

Dombrovskis continued that the EU has agreed disclosure rules for financial market operators and is moving quickly over a taxonomy to define which economic activities are sustainable.

“We will work on EU green bond standards, which could support local and regional authorities – and SMEs – to issue bonds to assist in setting up sustainable projects,” he added.

The EU’s non-financial reporting directive will also ask companies to give sufficient and reliable information on their sustainability risks and opportunities. In addition, at least 25% of the EU’s next budget from 2021 to 2027  should contribute to sustainability goals.

“We will also work with the European Investment Bank so that by 2025, at least half of its financing will be dedicated to climate action projects – double what it is now,” said  Dombrovskis.

Fintech

Dombrovskis’ speech also covered the digital transformation of financial services.

“We will present a new strategy for Europe to get the best out of fintech and compete globally, as we remove regulatory barriers between countries,” he added. “Of course, we will make sure to address risks related to consumer protection, money laundering and terrorist financing, data protection, to give just some examples.”

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