European Commission Publishes Green Paper on Building a Capital Markets Union

On February 18, the European Commission published a green paper on building a Capital Markets Union.

The green paper identifies a number of key priorities to create a fully integrated single market for capital. The early action priorities include relaxing rules around securitization, reviewing the prospectus regime, widening the small and medium-sized investor base by ensuring comparable cross-border credit information and credit-scoring, developing private placement markets by introducing common market practices, principles and standardizes documentation and boosting long-term investment through the European Fund for Strategic Investment and the European Long-Term Investment Funds regulatory framework.

The Commission will publish an action plan later in 2015 to identify and remove barriers for the free movement of capital, and aims to have in place a fully functioning Capital Markets Union by 2019.  Green Paper.

 

FMLC Publishes Letter to European Commission on Reporting and Transparency of Securities Financing Transactions

On February 10, the UK Financial Markets Law Committee (FMLC) published a letter to the Director-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union of the European Commission.

The letter discusses the proposed Regulation on Reporting and Transparency of Securities Financing Transactions. The proposed regulation would introduce a transparency regime in the context of securities financing transactions (typically repurchase agreements (repos), securities lending activities, and sell/buy-back transactions) by requiring their reporting to trade repositories and disclosure to fund investors.

The FMLC is concerned that the proposed regulation fails adequately to reflect the difference between a title transfer financial collateral arrangement (TTFCA) and a security financial collateral arrangement (SFCA), pointing out that such failure adequately to differentiate had been flagged in comments by the ECB. To allay these concerns the FMLC recommends that the proposed regulation is amended to make it explicit that TTFCAs are excluded from Article 15 of the proposed regulation which states that counterparties shall have the right to rehypothecation only if the counterparty is informed in writing of the potential risks and has granted its prior express consent. Since a TTFCA (unlike a SFCA) involves the transfer to the receiving counterparty of the ownership of the assets in question, it is incongruous to say that the receiving counterparty has the right to use the assets transferred to him only if certain conditions are satisfied because the right to use them is a necessary incident of the ownership of the assets. Similarly, the FMLC points out that only assets transferred by means of a SFCA constitute “client assets” for the purposes of the receiving party as the transferor retains an equitable interest.  Letter.

ESMA Publishes an Opinion on Draft RTS on Clearing of Interest Rate Swaps under EMIR

Article 5(2) of Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 (EMIR) requires the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to develop draft regulatory technical standards specifying, inter alia, the class of OTC derivatives that should be subject to the clearing obligation, the date or dates from which the clearing obligation takes effect, including any phase in and the categories of counterparties to which the obligation applies.

In October 2014, ESMA submitted a draft regulatory technical standard (RTS) on the clearing obligation in respect of interest rate swaps to the European Commission. On 18 December 2014, the Commission submitted to ESMA a modified version of the RTS (the “modified RTS”) introducing, among others, (1) amendments to the date on which the frontloading obligation starts to apply and (2) a new provision on the treatment of non-EU intragroup transactions. In the modified RTS, the Commission proposed that for a period of maximum three years, any third country shall be deemed equivalent within the meaning of Article 13(2) of EMIR. The effect would be to allow, for a period of three years, financial counterparties to apply for the intra-group exemption in respect of their transactions with any third-country entity in the absence of decisions on equivalence.

On January 29, ESMA published an opinion on the modified RTS stating that ESMA considers that the Commission’s proposal in relation to non-EU intra group transactions is not appropriate from a legal perspective. ESMA noted that (i) the adoption by the Commission of implementing acts on equivalence under Article 13 is the only procedure envisaged under EMIR to establish whether third-countries can be considered as having legal, supervisory and enforcement frameworks equivalent to EMIR; and (ii)any provision that has an effect equivalent to that of an implementing act on equivalence under Article 13, although limited in time and scope, but without the examination procedure referred to in Article 13(2), may have unintended consequences and therefore requires a very careful review. ESMA will explore, in coordination with the Commission, a different manner to incorporate that provision.  Opinion.

ECON Publishes Draft Report on MMF Regulation

On November 17, the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) published a draft report on the proposed Regulation on Money Market Funds (the MMF Regulation).

Money market funds are a type of investment fund that invests in short-term debt such as money market instruments issued by banks, governments and companies (MMFs).  If adopted, the MMF Regulation will introduce a general framework of requirements to enhance the liquidity and stability of MMF funds.

The draft report sets out suggested amendments to the European Commission’s original proposal and an explanatory statement. The statement comments that:

  • there is still significant scope for improvement relating to liquidity and maturity transformation and in making MMFs more stable;
  • a new category of EU government constant net assets value money market fund (CNAV MMF) should be established, which would invest a majority of assets into EU government debt; and
  • the net asset value of CNAVs should be subject to daily disclosure requirements, stress tests should take place on a quarterly basis and there should be stronger investor warnings.

The Parliament is scheduled to consider the MMF Regulation at its plenary session on March 25, 2015. Draft report.

Q&As and FAQs Updated by the Basel Committee, the FCA, the European Commission and the European Banking Authority

On October 7, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision issued frequently asked questions on the Basel III leverage ratio framework.

On October 6, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a Q&A paper for alternative investment fund managers (AIFM) on reporting transparency information to the FCA.

On October 3, the European Commission published a frequently asked questions paper on the Regulation on improving securities settlement and regulating central securities depositories (CSDR).

On October 3, the European Banking Authority updated its Q&As on the single rulebook, publishing 16 new answers to questions largely relating to supervisory reporting and credit risk. Basel FAQs. FCA Q&As. European Commission FAQs. EBA Q&As.

Draft Regulatory Technical Standards on Supplementary Prospectuses Published

The European Commission has published a draft of regulatory technical standards on the issue of secondary prospectuses which, minor drafting amendments aside, match those published by the European Securities and Markets Authority in December 2013.

Currently, under article 16(1) of the European Prospectus Directive, a supplemental prospectus must be issued if any new factor arises (or a material inaccuracy in a prospectus is detected) between the approval of a prospectus and the closing of the offer or commencement of trading of the relevant securities to which it relates.  The draft regulatory technical standards set out the specific triggers for and contents of supplementary prospectuses.

Having now cleared the European Commission, the next step is for the regulations to be put before the European Parliament and Council for their consideration prior to their eventual enactment.  Draft Regulatory Technical Standards.

CFTC and EC Statement on Regulatory Framework

On February 12, the CFTC and the European Commission announced jointly that the two agencies have made significant progress in their collaboration on the regulatory frameworks for CFTC-regulated swap execution facilities (SEFs) and EU-regulated multilateral trading facilities (MTFs).  Joint Release.

As Part of EU-US Trade Deal the European Commission Proposes Framework for Regulatory Cooperation in Financial Services

On January 27, the European Commission published a report setting out a proposal for a framework for regulatory cooperation in financial services in the context of negotiations for an EU-US trade deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The EU intends to establish, within the TTIP framework, a process by which the EU and the United States are committed to working together towards strengthening financial stability. This cooperation would be based on a number of principles, backed by specific arrangements for the governance of the EU-US regulatory cooperation, guidelines on equivalence assessments and commitments to exchange necessary and appropriate data between regulators. Report.

UK House of Commons Scrutinizes MLD4 and Revised Wire Transfer Regulation Proposals

On January 2, the United Kingdom House of Commons Scrutiny Committee published its 28th Session 2013-2014 report.  In particular, the report considers the European Commission’s proposed MLD4 Directive on money laundering and terrorist financing and the proposed Wire Transfer Regulation.

Areas of concern over MLD4 highlighted in the report include supranational risk assessments, e-money, politically exposed persons, third country policy and sanctions and supervision.  Report.

UK House of Lords EU Committee Report on European Commission’s Financial Transaction Tax Proposals

On December 10, the UK House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs published a follow-up report to its March 2012 report on the European Commission’s proposals for a financial transaction tax (FTT).

The Committee’s report identifies “serious” flaws with the Commission’s use of enhanced cooperation, including the adverse impact on institutions in non-participating member states, such as the UK.  Report.