Shearman & Sterling LLP | FinReg
Financial Regulatory Developments Focus
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The following posts provide a snapshot of the principal U.S., European and global financial regulatory developments of interest to banks, investment firms, broker-dealers, market infrastructures, asset managers and corporates.

  • Final Draft EU Technical Standards on Conditions of Impracticability of Bail-in Clauses
    12/23/2020

    The European Banking Authority has published a final report and final draft Regulatory Technical Standards and Implementing Technical Standards on the impracticability of contractual recognition of write-down and conversion (i.e., bail-in) under the EU Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive. BRRD requires certain firms to include contractual recognition of bail-in in their contractual agreements covering particular liabilities which are governed by the law of a third country. This is now a more significant issue than previously, given the prevalence of English law contractual documentation in European financial markets, including following Brexit. A new exemption to the contractual bail-in requirement was introduced under BRRD 2 (which EU member states must apply through national laws from December 28, 2020) where firms consider that it is legally or otherwise impracticable to include the contractual recognition. Liabilities subject to this waiver cannot count towards MREL, must be senior to unsecured claims arising from certain debt instruments and firms intending to take advantage of the exemption should notify their resolution authority.

    Read more.
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Guidelines on Reporting Securities Financing Transactions
    12/21/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published guidelines on the reporting obligations under the EU Securities Financing Transactions Regulation. SFTs involve the use of securities to borrow cash or other higher investment-grade securities, or vice versa. Such transactions can include repurchase transactions, securities lending and sell/buy backs. The reporting obligation applies from January 11, 2021 for Non-Financial Counterparties. It has applied since July 13, 2020 for banks and investment firms (delayed from April 13, 2020 due to COVID-19), CCPs and central securities depositories and from October 12, 2020 for other Financial Counterparties.

    The guidelines will apply to counterparties to SFTs, trade repositories and relevant EU financial regulators from the day after publication or the day from which the relevant obligation applies.

    The guidelines cover:
    • the reporting start date when it falls on a non-working day;
    • the number of reportable SFTs;
    • the population of reporting fields for different types of SFTs, for margin data and for reuse, reinvestment and funding sources data;
    • the approach used to link SFT collateral with SFT loans;
    • the generation of feedback by trade repositories and its subsequent management by counterparties, in the case of rejection of reported data and reconciliation breaks; and
    • the provision of access to data to authorities by trade repositories.

    View the guidelines on reporting under SFTR.

    View details of the delays to SFTR reporting due to COVID-19.
    TOPIC: Securities
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Renews Notification Requirement for Net Short Positions at or Exceeding 0.1%
    12/17/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has renewed its decision requiring holders of net short positions in shares traded on an EU-regulated market to notify national regulators if the position reaches or exceeds 0.1% of issued share capital. ESMA originally introduced the requirement on March 16, 2020 for a period of three months and has extended it twice since then. This latest extension will apply the requirements from December 19, 2020 until March 19, 2021. The temporary transparency obligations are a response to perceived threats to market integrity arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. They apply to any natural or legal person, irrespective of their country of residence, but do not apply to shares admitted to trading on a regulated market where the principal venue for the trading of the shares is located in a third country, market making activities, or stabilization activities.

    The European Free Trade Association's Surveillance Authority published a decision on the same day renewing its decision imposing the same transparency obligations for shares admitted to trading on an EEA regulated market. The renewed requirements also apply from December 19, 2020 until March 19, 2021.

    View ESMA's decision.

    View the EFTA decision.
    TOPICS: COVID-19Securities
  • UK Central Securities Depository Granted Temporary Recognition by the European Securities and Markets Authority
    12/11/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has announced that Euroclear UK & Ireland Limited, a central securities depository established in the U.K., will be granted recognition under the EU CSD Regulation. The recognition will allow Euroclear UK & Ireland Limited to continue to provide certain services to EU customers after the end of the Brexit transitional period until at least June 30, 2021. ESMA's recognition decision follows the November 2020 temporary equivalence decision granted to U.K. CSDs.

    View ESMA's announcement.

    View details of the EU's equivalence decision for U.K. CSDs.
  • European Commission Consults on Central Securities Depositories Regulation
    12/08/2020

    The European Commission has launched a consultation on proposals to improve securities settlement in the EU and on central securities depositories. The EU Central Securities Depositaries Regulation provides a harmonized regulatory and prudential regime for CSDs and increases the robustness and resilience of securities settlement arrangements. There is a single market for CSD services across the EU and a third-country equivalence regime for CSDs. Responses to the consultation can be submitted until February 2, 2021.

    Read more.
  • EU Authorities Warn of Potential Loss of Preferential Capital Treatment for STS Securitizations
    12/07/2020

    The European Supervisory Authorities have issued a press release warning of the change in the status of "simple, transparent and standardized" securitization transactions at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020. The Securitization Regulation provides the criteria for identifying which securitizations will be designated as STS securitizations, a system to monitor the application of those criteria as well as common requirements on risk retention, due diligence and disclosure. Related amendments to the EU Capital Requirements Regulation set out the regulatory treatment of exposures to securitizations that are deemed to be STS securitizations. For a securitization to qualify as an STS securitization, the EU Securitization Regulation requires the originator, sponsor and securitization special purpose entity to be established in the EU. The ESA's announcement highlights that securitizations that currently meet the STS criteria may not do so from January 1, 2021, if one or more of the originator, sponsor or SSPE are established in the U.K. The loss of STS status will mean that the EU CRR preferential capital treatment is no longer available.

    The European Securities and Markets Authority will be working with EU national regulators to ensure that its database of STS securitizations is up to date as at January 1, 2021.

    View the ESA's press release.
  • EU Grants Temporary Equivalence for UK Central Securities Depositories
    11/26/2020

    An EU equivalence decision has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union granting temporary equivalence for U.K. central securities depositories from the end of the Brexit transitional period (on December 31, 2020). The equivalence decision applies to CSDs already established in the U.K. and will apply from January 1, 2021 until June 30, 2021.

    View the EU equivalence decision for U.K. CSDs.
  • EU Markets Authority Confirms Position on Derivatives Trading Obligation Post-Brexit
    11/25/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has confirmed its position, originally proposed in March 2019, that the derivatives trading obligation under the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation will continue to apply without changes, and as things stand without any U.K. equivalency, after the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020.

    The derivatives trading obligation requires EU investment firms to conclude transactions in certain derivatives on EU regulated markets, multilateral trading facilities, organized trading facilities or third-country venues in jurisdictions benefiting from an EU equivalence decision. The trading obligation applies to certain fixed-to-float interest rate swaps denominated in EUR, USD and GBP and to certain index credit default swaps (iTraxx Europe Main and iTraxx Europe Crossover).

    Read more.
  • Financial Stability Board Report on Impact of Climate Change on Financial Stability
    11/23/2020

    The Financial Stability Board has published a report on the Implications of Climate Change for Financial Stability. The report breaks climate-related financial stability risks down into three key categories: (i) physical risks (i.e., risks of economic losses caused by natural catastrophes); (ii) transition risks (i.e., risks arising from the process of adjusting to a low carbon economy); and (iii) liability risks (i.e., risks arising from parties being held liable for losses caused by environmental damage).

    Read more.
  • European Central Bank Consults on EURIBOR Fallbacks
    11/23/2020

    The European Central Bank has published two consultation papers on fallback trigger events and fallback rates for EURIBOR. Responses to the consultations should be submitted by January 15, 2021.

    Read more.
  • Revised Final Draft EU Technical Standards Published for Derivatives Margin and Clearing Obligations
    11/23/2020

    The European Supervisory Authorities have published final draft amending Regulatory Technical Standards on the application of EU bilateral margining requirements and the clearing obligation under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation in light of Brexit. The draft RTS are set out in two separate reports – one published jointly by the ESAs (covering the bilateral margining requirements for uncleared derivatives), the other published by the European Securities and Markets Authority (covering the clearing obligation for certain derivatives).

    Read more.
  • Financial Stability Board 2020 Progress Report on Benchmark Reform
    11/20/2020

    The Financial Stability Board has published a 2020 progress report on Reforming Major Interest Rate Benchmarks.

    Read more.
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Reports on Implementation of EU Central Securities Depositaries Regulation
    11/05/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published two reports relevant to the EU Central Securities Depositaries Regulation. The CSDR provides a harmonized regulatory and prudential regime for CSDs and increases the robustness and resilience of securities settlement arrangements. There is a single market for CSD services across the EU and a third-country equivalence regime for CSDs. ESMA's reports, which will be considered as part of the upcoming review of CSDR by the European Commission, are on the following:
     
    1. Internalized settlement, which is the regime for settlement other than through an EU CSD. In the report, ESMA notes that no significant risks have been identified. National EU regulators have identified that operational risk and custody risk are evident, in response to which, ESMA recommends improved operational processes and enhanced identification of client accounts. According to ESMA, the issues involved in the internalized settlement reporting regime are normal in terms of any new reporting requirements. Noting the limited time period that the data covers, ESMA highlights that continued monitoring of the regime is important to assess whether the area warrants regulation. ESMA considers that custodian clients should at least be informed of the risks and costs of the place of settlement.
    2. Cross-border services and handling of applications. ESMA found that CSDR has had a limited impact on the provision of cross-border services in the EU by EU CSDs. ESMA states that future reports will need access to more detailed information and that they should consider whether most of the activity remains with global custodians as well as the impact of CSDR on costs and competition.

    View ESMA's reports.
  • Global Financial Innovation Network Invites Applications for First Cross-Border Testing
    10/29/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has announced that it will be one of the 23 regulators participating in the cross-border testing initiative launched by the Global Financial Innovation Network. The other regulators involved are Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), Alberta Securities Commission (ASC), Astana Financial Services Authority (AFSA), Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), Bank of Lithuania (LB), Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), Capital Markets Authority (CMA, Kenya), Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), Central Bank of United Arab Emirates (CB UAE), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), Financial Services Commission Taiwan (FSC Taiwan), Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC), Hong Kong Insurance Authority (HKIA), Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (HKSFC), Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC), Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

    The GFIN was launched at the start of 2019 and is a network of organizations committed to supporting financial innovation in the interests of consumers. One of GFIN's priorities is facilitating cross-border trials of emerging technologies across global jurisdictions (a global sandbox). GFIN has opened applications from firms to test innovative financial products, services or business models across more than one country or jurisdiction, and applications should be submitted by December 31, 2020.

    View the GFIN cross-border testing site.

    View the FCA's announcement.
    TOPIC: FinTech
  • UK Conduct Regulator Extends Certification and Conduct Rules Implementation Deadlines
    10/28/2020

    Following its consultation earlier this year, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published its final policy statement and rules to extend certain implementation deadlines for the Certification Regime and Conduct Rules. To assist firms impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.K. has made legislation—The Bank of England and Financial Services Act 2016 (Commencement No. 6 and Transitional Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations 2020— extending the deadline for completion of firms' first assessments of the fitness and propriety of their Certified Persons from December 9, 2020, to March 31, 2021. This applies only to solo-regulated firms (other than benchmark administrators).

    In addition to extending that date, the FCA has also extended the following deadlines from December 9, 2020, to March 31, 2021:
    • the date the Conduct Rules come into force for staff that are not Senior Managers, Certification Staff or board directors;
    • the date by which relevant employees must receive training on the Conduct Rules; and
    • the deadline for submission of information about Directory Persons to the FS Register.

    The FCA has reiterated that firms that are able to certify staff and submit information for the FS Register before March 31, 2021, should do so.

    View the FCA's policy statement and amended rules.
  • EU Moves to Ease Brexit Implications for Post-Trade Transparency and Position Limits Regime
    10/27/2020

    Following its statement at the start of October 2020, the European Securities and Markets Authority has announced that U.K. trading venues have been positively assessed for the purposes of the post-trade transparency obligations and position limits regime under the Markets in Financial Instruments package. From January 1, 2021, EU investment firms will not be required to make transactions public in the EU via an EU Approved Publication Arrangement if they are executed on a U.K. trading venue that appears on ESMA's transparency list. In addition, commodity derivative contracts traded on U.K. trading venues that are on ESMA's position limits list will not be considered as economically equivalent OTC contracts and will thus not be subject to the EU position limit regime.

    View ESMA's announcements and lists.

    View details of ESMA's earlier statement in October.

    View details of the FCA's statement on the U.K.'s position.
  • EU Publishes Further Statement on Endorsement by EU Credit Rating Agencies of UK Ratings After the Brexit Transition Period
    10/27/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a further statement confirming that U.K. credit ratings can be endorsed by EU credit rating agencies from January 1, 2021, when the Brexit transition period ends. The EU CRA Regulation provides that banks, investment firms, insurers, reinsurers, management companies, investment companies, alternative investment fund managers and CCPs may use credit ratings only for certain regulatory purposes if a rating is issued by: (i) an EU CRA registered with ESMA; or (ii) a third-country CRA under the endorsement regime or the equivalence/certification regime. There is currently no equivalence decision for the U.K. CRA regime. Therefore, EU entities may use U.K. credit ratings only for regulatory purposes if the rating has been endorsed by an EU CRA. ESMA confirmed in March 2019 a positive assessment of the U.K.'s CRA regime for the purposes of endorsement. However, the final decision to endorse is for an EU CRA.

    Read more.
  • EU Markets Authority Updates Post-Brexit Position on EU Share Trading Obligation
    10/26/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published an updated statement on the impact of Brexit on the trading obligation for shares where no decision on the U.K.'s equivalence as a third country market has been made. The EU Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation requires investment firms to conclude transactions in shares admitted to trading on a regulated market or traded on an EU trading venue, i.e., namely regulated markets, multilateral trading facilities, systematic internalisers and equivalent third-country trading venues. The U.K. has adopted this requirement in its onshored MiFID II legislation. Similarly, following its exit from the EU, the new U.K. onshored share trading obligation would restrict the trading of shares in the U.K. to trades on U.K. trading venues unless a third-country equivalence decision was made.

    Read more.
  • ISDA Launches IBOR Fallbacks Protocol
    10/23/2020

    The Internationals Swaps and Derivatives Association has launched its IBOR Fallbacks Supplement to the 2006 ISDA Definitions and 2020 IBOR Fallbacks Protocol. Both will become effective on January 25, 2021. The fallbacks provide alternative risk free rates to be used in place of discontinued or non-representative IBORs referenced in derivative contracts. 

    Read more.
  • ISDA Publishes Papers on Legal Issues for Smart Contracts and Distributed Ledger Technology
    10/21/2020

    The International Swaps and Derivatives Association, in conjunction with certain law firms, has published a series of papers analyzing key legal issues for smart contracts and distributed ledger technology across four jurisdictions: France, Ireland, Japan and New York. These are in addition to the papers covering England and Wales and Singapore, which ISDA published in January 2020.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: FinTech
  • Financial Stability Board Publishes Global Transition Roadmap for LIBOR
    10/16/2020

    The Financial Stability Board has published a roadmap setting out a target timeline for firm's transition away from LIBOR benchmarks. The roadmap is aimed at financial and non-financial firms to ensure a successful transition away from LIBOR by the end of 2021.

    Read more.
  • Final Roadmap for Enhancing Cross-Border Payments Published by the Financial Stability Board
    10/13/2020

    The Financial Stability Board has published a Roadmap for enhancing cross-border payments. The Roadmap is the final stage in the G20's three-stage process to enable countries to enhance their cross-border payments systems. The FSB published the Stage 1 report in April 2020, which identified existing challenges in cross-border payments systems and specified key "frictions" in the cross-border payments system that contribute to these challenges. The Stage 2 report, published by the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures in July 2020, covered the 19 building blocks where further public and private sector work would enhance cross-border payments and address the frictions ascertained by the FSB.

    Read more.
  • Financial Stability Board Publishes Final Recommendations on Global Stablecoins
    10/13/2020

    Following its consultation earlier this year, the Financial Stability Board has published a final report on the regulation, supervision and oversight of global stablecoin arrangements. In the report, the FSB discusses the characteristics of GSCs, the risks posed by GSCs, existing approaches to regulating and supervising GSCs and issues with cross-border supervision of GSCs. Alongside the report, the FSB has published a summary of the responses to its consultation.

    Read more.
  • Bank for International Settlements Report on Central Bank Digital Currencies
    10/09/2020

    The Bank for International Settlements, together with seven central banks (Bank of Canada, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Sveriges Riksbank, Swiss National Bank, Bank of England and Board of Governors Federal Reserve System) has released a report on the principles and core features of central bank digital currencies. The central banks concerned do not give any opinions on whether they intend to issue CBDCs. Instead, the report sets out three key principles for a hypothetical CBDC, namely: (i) that it should do no harm to central banks' public policy objectives or interfere with financial stability; (ii) that it should complement existing forms of central bank money; and (iii) that it should promote innovation and efficiency, to deter users from adopting other, less safe instruments or currencies.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: FinTech
  • ISDA Announces Upcoming Launch of IBOR Fallbacks Protocol
    10/09/2020

    The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has announced that it will launch its IBOR Fallbacks Supplement to the 2006 ISDA Definitions and its 2020 IBOR Fallbacks Protocol on October 23, 2020, although they will not take effect until January 25, 2021. The Supplement and Protocol implement fallbacks for derivatives contracts that reference discontinued or non-representative IBORs.

    Read more.
  • Bank of England Financial Policy Committee Publishes Policy Summary
    10/08/2020

    The Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee has published its latest Policy Summary and the minutes of its meeting held on September 30, 2020. The FPC notes a range of near-term risks that could impact the U.K. economy, including the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, post-Brexit trading arrangements between the U.K. and EU and various other geopolitical risks. 

    Read more.
  • UK Conduct Regulator Bans Sale to Retail Clients of Derivatives Referencing Crypto-Assets from January 2021
    10/06/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a Policy Statement and final rules prohibiting the sale, marketing and distribution to retail clients of derivatives and exchange traded notes referencing certain types of unregulated, transferable crypto-assets by firms acting in, or from, the U.K. The ban will apply from January 6, 2021.

    The prohibition will apply to the marketing, distributing or selling of crypto derivatives in, or from, the U.K. to retail clients by MiFID investment firms, MiFID optional exemption firms, U.K. branches of third-country investment firms and to EEA MiFID investment firms that currently passport into the U.K. and which will continue operating after the Brexit transitional period ends on January 1, 2021.

    Read more.
  • EU Final Guidelines on Transfers of Information Between Securitization Repositories
    10/05/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a final report and final guidelines on the portability of information between securitization repositories under the EU Securitization Regulation. ESMA is responsible for the registration and supervision of securitization repositories. It is required under the Securitization Regulation to develop guidelines for supervisory purposes and will apply them from January 1, 2021, except for those provisions that require securitization repositories to have policies for the orderly transfer of data to other securitization repositories, which apply from June 18, 2021. The guidelines will apply to transfers of information between repositories either at the request of a reporting entity or in the event of a securitization repository's registration being withdrawn. The guidelines set out the specific procedures and the content of policies for the orderly transfer of information by securitization repositories.

    View ESMA's final report and guidelines.
  • EU Report on the Potential for a Digital Euro
    10/02/2020

    The European Central Bank has published a report by the Eurosystem High-Level Task Force on a digital euro. The digital euro would be a form of central bank digital currency. No decision has been taken yet to issue a digital euro. The report sets out the reasons for having a digital euro, the potential impact of a digital euro, legal considerations, functional design possibilities and technical and operational approaches to digital euro services. A consultation on the potential launch of a digital euro is expected in October 2020.

    The Bank of England issued a discussion paper in March 2020 on the opportunities, challenges and design of a potential U.K. CBDC. The ECB and the BoE are two of the central banks that are investigating the potential of CBDCs. Other central banks include the Bank of Canada, the Bank of Japan, the Sveriges Riksbank, the Swiss National Bank and the Bank for International Settlements.

    View the ECB's report on a digital euro.
  • UK Conduct Regulator Confirms Post-Brexit Position on Post-Trade Transparency and Position Limits
    10/02/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has issued a statement confirming the U.K. position from January 1, 2021, for post-trade transparency reporting obligations and position limit regime under the U.K. Markets in Financial Instruments package. The FCA confirms that:
    • U.K. firms trading on non-U.K. trading venues will not be required to publish details of those transactions through a U.K. Approved Publication Arrangement; and
    • Commodity derivative contracts traded on trading venues are not considered by the FCA to be economically equivalent OTC contracts and will not be subject to the U.K. commodity derivatives position limits regime.

    The FCA's statement follows the statement made the previous day by the European Securities and Markets Authority that it intended to assess U.K. trading venues for the purpose of the EU post-trade transparency obligations and position limits regime. If ESMA assesses a U.K. trading venue positively, then trades on the venue will not need to be reported by EU investment firms through an EU APA, and they will not be subject to the position limits regime.

    View the FCA's statement.

    View details of ESMA's statement.
  • EU to Assess UK Trading Venues to Clarify Post-Brexit Position for Post-Trade Transparency and Position Limits Regime
    10/01/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published updated statements on the impact of Brexit on the application of the Markets in Financial Instruments package and the EU Benchmark Regulation. ESMA issued statements in 2019 to clarify the position in a no-deal scenario. These latest statements provide updates to take into account the Withdrawal Agreement and the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020.

    Read more.
  • Final Technical Standards on Third-Country Investment Firm Registration and Reporting Requirements
    09/28/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published final draft Technical Standards on the provision of investment services and activities in the EU by third-country firms under the Markets in Financial Instruments package. Amendments that were made to the MiFID II package under the Investment Firm Regulation and Directive require, among other things, third-country firms providing services to all types of clients to provide ESMA with further information. In addition, ESMA has increased powers over third-country firms providing services to eligible counterparties and per se professional clients, such as the ability to conduct on-site inspections and impose product restrictions or prohibitions. The revisions will apply from June 26, 2021.

    Read more.
  • EU Grants Temporary Recognition to UK CCPs For End of Brexit Transition Period
    09/28/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has announced that it has granted temporary third-country recognition to three U.K. CCPs from January 1, 2021 under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation. ESMA's announcement follows the time-limited equivalence decision for the U.K.'s legal and regulatory supervision regime of U.K. CCPs, which was published on September 21, 2020. The third-country recognition for ICE Clear Europe Limited, LCH Limited and LME Clear Limited means that EU clearing members of these three CCPs will be able to continue to access the services and that the CCPs will be able to continue to provide their services in the EU at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, following the U.K.'s withdrawal from the EU.

    Read more.
  • EU Securities Authority Recommends Changes to EU Market Abuse Regulation
    09/24/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a final report on the review of the Market Abuse Regulation. MAR requires the European Commission to report on certain aspects of the operation of MAR, including where appropriate, making recommendations for legislative change. ESMA's final report and recommendations will support the work by the Commission on producing that report. The proposals will mostly affect issuers of financial instruments admitted to trading or trading on a trading venue, investment firms and asset management firms.

    Read more.
  • European Commission Sets out Capital Markets Union Action Plan
    09/24/2020

    The European Commission has published a Communication to EU bodies on its Capital Markets Union Action Plan. The CMU is an EU initiative which aims to enhance and further integrate the capital markets of EU Member States. An action plan to develop the initiative was first adopted in 2015 and has been commented upon and updated since then. The Commission's Communication sets out the latest Action Plan, and is accompanied by a Q&A. It follows the recommendations of the High-Level Forum on the CMU, which proposed 17 key recommendations for the CMU, and the Commission's Roadmap on the CMU which set out details of the Commission's proposed Action Plan for comments by interested parties.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: COVID-19Securities
  • European Commission Sets Out EU Digital Finance Strategy
    09/24/2020

    The European Commission has published a Communication on its EU digital finance strategy for the coming years. The global economy has been transformed by digital innovation, and this includes financial services. The Commission's strategic objective is to embrace digital finance for the benefit of consumers and businesses while ensuring digital transformation is soundly regulated. To achieve this objective, the Commission sets out four priorities for the digital transformation of the EU financial sector over the next four years and the actions it will take to achieve them.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: COVID-19FinTech
  • European Commission Proposal for Pilot Distributed Ledger Technology Regime Regulation
    09/24/2020

    The European Commission has published a proposal for a new EU Regulation on a pilot regime for distributed ledger technology. The pilot regime is intended to promote legal certainty, to support innovation, to preserve market integrity and to ensure financial stability for the use of DLT in crypto-asset and e-money token markets. The Commission has simultaneously published a proposed Regulation on markets in crypto-assets and e-money tokens. The proposed Regulations follow the Commission's consultation on an EU framework for crypto-assets, which closed in January 2020.

    Read more.
  • European Commission Proposal for Crypto-asset Regulation
    09/24/2020

    The European Commission has published a proposal for a new EU Regulation on crypto-assets. The proposed Regulation is intended to improve legal certainty in the regulatory treatment of crypto-assets, to support the development of crypto-assets, to preserve consumer protection and market integrity in crypto-asset markets and to ensure financial stability. The Commission has simultaneously published a Regulation on a pilot regime for distributed ledger technology. The proposed Regulations follow the Commission's consultation on an EU framework for crypto-assets, which closed in January 2020.

    Read more.
  • European Commission Proposals for Digital Operational Resilience Regulation and Amending Directive 
    09/24/2020

    The European Commission has published proposals for a new EU Regulation on digital operational resilience for the financial sector and a new EU Directive amending certain pieces of existing EU financial services legislation to strengthen digital operational resilience and provide legal certainty on crypto-assets. The new legislation has been proposed as a result of the risks arising from the increase in digital opportunities within the financial sector. There are currently no detailed rules at EU level on digital operational resilience, exposing the need for comprehensive and harmonized legislation governing this area.

    Read more.
  • European Commission Sets out EU Retail Payments Strategy
    09/24/2020

    The European Commission has published a Communication on its EU retail payments strategy for the coming years. The payments sector has experienced significant change in recent years. Retail payments are increasingly dematerialized and disintermediated, with large technology companies playing a more significant part in the payments sector. The EU payments market is also largely fragmented along national borders, leading to a small number of large firms providing cross-border services and inhibiting domestic FinTechs. The Commission's strategic objective is to establish a clear EU policy framework for retail payments that manages the risk of inconsistencies and market fragmentation across the EU.

    Read more.
  • UK Conduct Regulator Consults on Post-Brexit Approach to Authorization for Non-UK Firms
    09/23/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has launched a consultation on its intended approach to international firms seeking to provide regulated financial services in the U.K. after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31, 2020 and the U.K.'s temporary permissions regime comes to an end three years later.  The FCA intends to use the consultation responses to inform the publication of a document that would explain the FCA's general approach to regulating international firms. The consultation does not propose any changes to the FCA's existing rules or to the FCA Handbook. Responses should be submitted by November 27, 2020.

    Read more.
  • Bank of England Consults on Changes to Brexit Onshoring Legislation
    09/22/2020

    The Bank of England has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the BoE and Prudential Regulation Authority's Brexit onshoring legislation. The U.K. left the EU on January 31, 2020. Under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, the U.K. agreed that EU legislation continues to apply in the U.K. until the end of the transition or implementation period on December 31, 2020 (known as "IP completion day"). The existing Brexit onshoring legislation ensures that, after EU law ceases to apply in the UK at the end of the transition or implementation period, U.K. legislation remains functional. Further updates to the onshoring legislation and regulatory rules are needed, however, to take account of the transition or implementation period (which delayed the entry into force of the onshoring legislation) and of additional EU legislation that will apply in the U.K. prior to the end of that period.

    Read more.
  • UK Treasury Committee Seeks Answers from UK Bodies on FinCen Papers and Economic Crime
    09/22/2020

    The U.K. Treasury Committee has written to the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, HM Revenue and Customs and the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, seeking answers to a series of questions on the actions each of the bodies are taking to combat economic crime and the significance of the "FinCen files" leak. The FinCen files are essentially a series of leaked suspicious transaction reports originally sent by banks to the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network between 2000-2017 notifying FinCen of suspicious transactions.

    Read more.
  • European Banking Authority Phases Out COVID-19 Guidelines on Loan Repayments Moratoria
    09/21/2020

    The European Banking Authority has confirmed that it will phase out its Guidelines on legislative and non-legislative payment moratoria in accordance with its September 30, 2020 deadline. The EBA originally published the Guidelines in April 2020, stipulating that, for a period of three months, banks should not class payment moratoria that were based on national law or private-sector initiatives as forbearance or distressed restructuring practices, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guidelines were extended for a further three months on June 30, 2020 but the EBA now intends to comply with the September 30, 2020 phase out deadline in light of the success of the temporary moratoria and the need to return to the usual rescheduling of loans on a case-by-case approach.  The treatment described in the Guidelines will continue to apply to payment holidays granted prior to September 30, 2020.

    View the EBA's statement on the phase-out of its Guidelines.

    View details of the EBA's Guidelines.
  • UK Prudential Regulation Authority Publishes Proprietary Trading Review
    09/21/2020

    The U.K. Prudential Regulation Authority has published a report on the extent of proprietary trading by PRA-authorized deposit takers and investment firms incorporated in the U.K. Restrictions on proprietary trading (being the trading of financial instruments or commodities as principal by banks or investment firms) were introduced for ring-fenced retail banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and came into force in January 2019. However, the U.K. decided not to impose a complete ban on proprietary trading for all banks, as had been seen in other countries, such as the U.S. under the Volcker Rule. Instead, the PRA was mandated to produce a report under the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013, with a view to informing the U.K. Parliament of the need for any further restrictions on proprietary trading.

    Read more.
  • International Organization of Securities Commissions Publishes Guidance on Conflicts of Interest in Debt Capital Raising
    09/21/2020

    The International Organization of Securities Commissions has published guidance on how to address potential conflicts of interest and associated conduct risks for intermediaries involved in the issuance of debt securities. Intermediaries may perform a variety of roles on a debt capital raising transaction and may also have a proprietary interest in the transaction itself.  In 2017, the IOSCO Board decided to examine conflicts of interest and other conduct risks in the capital raising process. IOSCO published guidance for the equity capital raising process in September 2018.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: COVID-19Securities
  • UK Law Commission Announces Projects on Accommodating Smart Contracts and Digital Assets into English Law
    09/21/2020

    The U.K. Law Commission has announced two new projects designed to ensure that English law is able to accommodate smart contracts and digital assets.

    Smart contracts are automated contracts such as distributed ledgers which are produced without human intervention. The Law Commission plans to investigate various questions arising from the use of smart contracts, including: (i) in what circumstances will contracts written in code be legally binding; (ii) how should smart contracts be interpreted by the courts; and (iii) what are the legal consequences of the code not performing as intended? The Law Commission is seeking input from the business and technology sectors and intends to publish a call for evidence in late 2020.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: FinTech
  • International Swaps and Derivatives Association Letter on Timing of ISDA IBOR Fallbacks Protocol
    09/21/2020

    The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has written to the Co-Chairs of the Financial Stability Board Official Sector Steering Group seeking input on its proposed timing for the launch of its IBOR Fallbacks Protocol and IBOR Fallbacks Supplement. The Protocol and Supplement will implement fallbacks for derivatives contracts that reference discontinued or non-representative IBORs. The launch of the Protocol and Supplement is subject to approvals from various international competition authorities, which are still pending. Once the approvals have been obtained, ISDA intends to provide market participants with roughly two weeks' notice of the launch and effective dates of the Protocol and Supplement, allowing market participants to adhere to the Protocol 'in escrow' prior to its launch date. ISDA expects the effective dates of the Protocol and Supplement to occur approximately three months after the launch date, and in any case not before the second half of January 2021.

    View ISDA's letter.
  • European Commission Decision Temporarily Establishes UK CCP Equivalence
    09/21/2020

    The European Commission has published a Decision temporarily determining that U.K. central counterparties will be deemed equivalent to EU standards under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation. The Decision will apply from January 1, 2021 until June 30, 2022. The U.K.'s Brexit transition period ends on December 31, 2020, after which it will cease to form part of the EU's arrangement for financial services. The Decision grants equivalence for a limited 18-month duration.

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  • EMIR 2.2 Secondary Legislation Published
    09/21/2020

    Three Commission Delegated Regulations have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, supplementing the revised European Market Infrastructure Regulation. The Delegated Regulations contain provisions related to the changes introduced by EMIR 2.2, the amending EU Regulation that came into force on January 1, 2020 and introduced changes to the procedures and authorities involved in the authorization of central counterparties and the requirements for the recognition of third-country CCPs. EMIR 2.2 also introduced a new tiering system for third-country CCPs, making non-systemically important (or "Tier 1") third-country CCPs subject to less stringent requirements than systemically important (or "Tier 2") third-country CCPs. The Commission Delegated Regulations all relate to third-country CCP provisions of EMIR 2.2 and will enter into force on September 22, 2020. They have been published in the form adopted by the European Commission in July 2020.

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