European Commission Report on Credit Rating Agencies Regulation


On October 19, 2016, the European Commission published a report (COM(2016) 664 final) responding to reporting obligations set out in Regulation 1060/2009 (CRA Regulation).

The report:

  • Analyzes references to external credit ratings in EU legislation and in private contracts among parties in financial markets.
  • Assesses potential alternatives to external credit ratings that are currently used by market participants in the EU. The Commission is of the view that there are currently no feasible alternatives that could entirely replace external credit ratings.
  • Evaluates the impact of the CRA Regulation on governance and internal procedures of CRAs, in particular the prevention of conflict of interests and the use of alternative remuneration models.
  • Analyzes the provisions relating to structured finance instruments (SFIs) and their potential extension to other asset classes. The Commission does not think it is appropriate to extend CRA Regulation provisions to other financial products.
  • Assesses the impact and effectiveness of the CRA Regulation’s measures concerning competition in the credit rating industry. Given some provisions are still in the process of implementation, the Commission will continue monitoring the development of the market before considering the adoption of further measures. More generally, the Commission will seek to avoid and further reduce regulatory barriers to market entry.
  • Considers the feasibility of establishing a European CRA for the assessment of sovereign debt and a European credit rating foundation for all other credit ratings. The Commission considers there to be no need at present for a European CRA specialized in sovereign debt or for other credit ratings.

European Commission Adopts Delegated Regulation on RTS on Minimum Details of Data to Report to Trade Repositories


On October 19, 2016, the European Commission adopted a Delegated Regulation amending Delegated Regulation 148/2013 supplementing EMIR (Regulation 648/2012) as regards regulatory technical standards (RTS) on the minimum details of the data to be reported to trade repositories (C(2016) 6624 final).

EMIR requires all counterparties and central counterparties (CCPs) to report the details of any OTC derivative contract they have concluded and of any modification or termination of the contract to a trade repository.

The Delegated Act updates existing standards that were published in the Official Journal of the EU (OJ) in February 2013 (see Legal update, Delegated regulations on EMIR regulatory technical standards published in Official Journal). It reflects recent developments and experience gained in the area of trade reporting. The revised RTS aim to:

  • Introduce new fields and values to reflect market practice or other necessary regulatory requirements.
  • Clarify data fields, their description or both.
  • Adapt existing fields to the reporting logic prescribed in existing Q&As or reflect specific ways of populating them.

The Commission has also published an Annex, which sets out the counterparty data and common data details to report to trade repositories.

The next step is for the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to consider the Delegated Regulation. If neither of them objects to it, the Delegated Regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the OJ.

European Commission TTIP Advisory Group Report Considers Financial Services Under TTIP


On October 17, 2016, the European Commission published a report documenting the meeting of the Commission’s Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Advisory Group on September 6, 2016.

Financial services are considered at section 4 of the report in the context of TTIP. The group notes that the EU tabled its offer on financial services market access in July 2016 (see Legal update, European Commission releases EU financial services offer for 14th round of TTIP negotiations: July 2016) . Discussions relating to this offer will continue during the next round of TTIP negotiations in October 2016.

The report also refers to the new joint EU-U.S. Financial Regulatory Forum, which was launched in July 2016 with the aim of making continued efforts to improve EU-U.S. regulatory coherence (see Legal update, EU and US establish joint financial regulatory forum ). The EU would like to see the work of the forum “linked into” the final TTIP agreement because, for the EU, the real issue for the financial services sector in the transatlantic context is regulatory transparency and cooperation. Diverging regulation may have negative implications on trade in financial services, financial stability, and consumer protection.

At the meeting, the group also discussed transparency (members expressed an interest in seeing documents related to financial services regulatory cooperation), domestic and international legislation (neither the U.S. nor the EU is seeking, through the forum, to revise the other’s legislation), the TTIP market access offer in financial services (prudential measures, such as capital requirements for banks, are not covered as these are out of scope) and measures to help consumers navigate transatlantic financial services (such as reduced charges for international transfers and simpler opening of bank accounts).

Compromise Proposal on the Regulation Amending EuVECA Regulation and EuSEF Regulation

On October 13 2016, the Presidency of the Council of European Union published a compromise proposal (13168/16) in relation to the proposed Regulation amending the European Venture Capital Funds Regulation (Regulation 345/2013).

Additions to the previous compromise proposal published in September 2016 are highlighted by bold underline, and deletions are highlighted in strikethrough.

Implementing Regulations on its Credit Assessments of ECAIs under Solvency II and CRR Published in OJ

On October 12, 2016, the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1799 of October 7, 2016 laying down implementing technical standards (ITS) with regard to the mapping of credit assessments of external credit assessment institutions (ECAIs) for credit risk in accordance with Articles 136(1) and 136(3) of the Capital Requirements Regulation and the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1800 of October 11, 2016 laying down ITS with regard to the allocation of credit assessments of ECAIs to an objective scale of credit quality steps in accordance with the Solvency II Directive were published in the Official Journal of the EU (OJ).

The aim on these ITS is to determine a prudential approach for cases lacking factual evidence and an objective approach for attributing risk weights to the assessment of ECAIs.

Draft versions of these ITS were published in November 2015 by the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities, who subsequently published an opinion in May 2016 rejecting the proposal by the European Commission to remove the more conservative mapping of ECAI credit assessments that the ESAs had proposed to be applied from January 1, 2019.

The ITS published in the OJ do not contain provisions relating to the introduction of the more conservative mapping, and the Commission has added wording to the recitals to explain its approach with regards to the issue.

The Implementing Regulations will enter into force on November 1, 2016.

ECB Amends Eligibility Criteria for Unsecured Bank Bonds


On October 5, 2016, the European Central Bank (“ECB”) stated that it will be making changes to its collateral framework by revising the collateral eligibility criteria and risk control measures in relation to senior unsecured debt instruments issued by credit institutions or investment firms (unsecured bank bonds or UBBs).

Under the current rules, UBBs will, except for these new changes, become ineligible on January 1, 2017. The ECB’s revisions to its collateral framework are aimed at temporarily maintaining the eligibility of UBBs (including the eligibility of statutorily subordinated UBBs that are not also contractually subordinated), beyond January 1, 2017.

Furthermore, UBBs will also be subject to additional risk control measures to remain eligible. The ECB has decided to reduce, as of January 1, 2017, the usage limit for uncovered bank bonds from 5% to 2.5%. The reduction will not apply where:

  • the value of such assets is equal to or less than €50 million (net of any applicable haircut); or
  • such assets are guaranteed (by a public sector entity that has the right to levy taxes) by way of a guarantee that complies with the provisions of Article 114 of the ECB Guideline on the implementation of the Eurosystem monetary policy framework.

The changes are expected to come into effect from January 1, 2017.

European Commission Adopts Delegated Regulation on RTS on Risk Mitigation Techniques for Uncleared OTC Derivative Contracts under EMIR


On October 4, 2016, the European Commission adopted a Delegated Regulation supplementing EMIR (the Regulation on OTC derivatives, CCPs and trade repositories) (Regulation 648/2012) with regulatory technical standards (“RTS”) on risk mitigation techniques for uncleared OTC derivative contracts, together with related Annexes (C(2016) 6329 final).

The Delegate Regulation sets out the levels and types of collateral that OTC derivatives counterparties must exchange bilaterally if the transaction is not cleared through a central counterparty (“CCP”). In the event that one counterparty to the transaction defaults, the margin collected will protect the non-defaulting counterparty against resulting losses.

The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) submitted the final draft RTS to the Commission in March 2016. In July 2016, the Commission informed the European Banking Authority that it intended to endorse the draft RTS with some amendments, including in relation to the concentration limits for pension scheme arrangements and the timeline for.

The Council of the EU and the European Parliament will now consider the Delegated Regulation. If neither of them objects to it, the Delegated Regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

ESMA Issues Final Guidelines on Inside Information and Commodity Derivatives under MAR

On September 30, 2016, the European Securities Markets Authority (“ESMA“) published final guidelines (ESMA/2016/1412) on information relating to commodity derivatives disclosable under the Market Abuse Regulation (Regulation 596/2014) (“MAR“).

Article 7(5) of MAR requires ESMA to issue guidelines to establish a non-exhaustive list of information that is reasonably expected or required to be disclosed in accordance with legal or regulatory provisions in EU or national law, market rules, contract, practice or custom, on the relevant commodity markets or spot markets.

ESMA expects market participants, investors and regulators to take the list of examples provided in the guidelines into account when assessing whether information is “inside” information. It should be noted that other conditions of the definition not covered by the new guidelines should also be taken into account.

ESMA also explains that the guidelines do not create any further information disclosure requirements, as the concept of “required to be disclosed” refers to existing or future disclosure requirements (such as, under national law), independent of the guidelines.

National competent authorities (“NCAs“) have two months from the issuance of the different language versions of the guidelines to confirm whether or not they intend to comply with them. If a NCA does not comply or does not intend to comply, it will have to inform ESMA, stating its reasons.

ESMA consulted on the guidelines in March 2016 (ESMA/2016/444).

ESMA Consults on SFT Regulation and Amendments to EMIR RTS

On September 30, 2016, ESMA published a consultation paper (ESMA/2016/1409) on draft regulatory technical standards (“RTS“) and draft implementing technical standards (“ITS“) implementing the Regulation on reporting and transparency of securities financing transactions ((EU) 2015/2365) (the “SFT Regulation“).

The SFT Regulation will require market participants to report details of securities financing transactions (“SFTs“) to an approved EU trade repository (“TR“). The main issues addressed are:

  • RTS and ITS procedure and criteria for registration as a TR;
  • RTS and ITS on the use of internationally agreed reporting standards, the reporting logic and main aspects of the structure and content of SFT reports;
  • RTS requirements relating to transparency of data, data collection, aggregation and comparison; and
  • RTS on access levels for different competent authorities.

ESMA also proposes amendments to existing technical standards implementing requirements relating to TRs under the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (“EMIR“). ESMA states that the amendments are needed to ensure a level playing field for market participants in respect of registration and access rules. ESMA is consulting on the following:

  • consolidated amended text of RTS on registration of TRs under EMIR; and
  • amendments to RTS on access levels under EMIR.

The consultation will close on November 30, 2016. ESMA will use the feedback it receives to finalize its draft technical standards, which are to be submitted to the European Commission for endorsement by the end of Q1 or beginning of Q2 2017. It is expected that the finalized implementing measures will become applicable from 2018.

EBA Provides Final RTS and Guidelines on the Definition of Default under CRR

On September 28, 2016, the European Banking Authority (“EBA“) published final reports on the documents relating to the definition of default under Article 178 of the Capital Requirements Regulation (Regulation 575/2013) (“CRR“):

  • Guidelines on the application of the definition of default under Article 178 (EBA/GL/2016/07) – the guidelines clarify all aspects related to the application of the definition of default, which is used for the purpose of both the internal ratings based approach (IRB approach) and for the standardized approach. The guidelines apply from January 1, 2021, although the EBA is encouraging firms to implement relevant changes in their internal procedures and IT systems before that date.
  • Draft regulatory technical standards (RTS) on the materiality threshold for credit obligations past due under Article 178 (EBA/RTS/2016/06) – Article 178 specifies that a default shall be considered to have occurred when an obligor has past more than 90 days on any material credit obligation to the firm, the parent undertaking or any of its subsidiaries. The draft RTS, which were mandated by Article 178(6) of the CRR, specify the conditions according to which a competent authority should set the materiality threshold for credit obligations that are past due.

The EBA has also published a report setting out the results of a qualitative and quantitative impact study (“QIS“) that assessed the impact on the regulatory capital requirements of selected policy options to harmonize the definition of default. The EBA states that the results of the QIS are the basis for the impact assessment carried out on the guidelines and the draft RTS.

The EBA consulted on these draft RTS and guidelines in October 2014 and September 2015 respectively (see Legal updates, EBA consults on draft RTS on materiality threshold of credit obligation past due and EBA consults on draft guidelines on application of default definition under CRR). According to an EBA press release, they form part of the EBA’s broader regulatory review of the internal ratings based (IRB) approach announced in February 2016.