Parliament makes an urgent call for clarification of post-Brexit financial regulation and supervision.

London

The EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee today published a detailed report ‘Brexit: the future of financial regulation and supervision.’

Report Summary:

  1. There is a risk of market fragmentation and instability if the UK and EU cannot agree a deal on market access once the UK has left the bloc;
  2. The Government must urgently clarify what outcome it wants from phase two of Brexit negotiations and on transitional arrangements;
  3. Firms will otherwise be forced to activate costly and potentially irreversible contingency plans;
  4. It is imperative post-Brexit arrangements do not undermine the benefits of UK participation in a globalised financial system.  Any fragmentation would lead increased costs increasing and deteriorating financial stability.

Commenting on the report, Baroness Falkner of Margravine, Chair of the EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee, said: "There is a risk of market fragmentation and financial instability if the UK loses access to the EU, as well as harm to customers and businesses. The UK's financial services sector is a global asset and both sides should want it to continue serving clients throughout Europe.

Report Findings:

  1. International standards and EU law have shaped the UK's regulation of financial services.   The UK has heavily influenced these.
  2. UK must continue to adhere to international standards and find a way to shape them in future, especially if there is a risk of them being undermined by other states.
  3. Post-crisis reforms have promoted financial stability and the Government should continue to advocate these reforms, especially if faced with initiatives by the EU that would lead to market fragmentation and a rowing back on the post-crisis commitments, such as current proposals on potential central counterparty (CCP) relocation.
  4. The translation of EU regulation into domestic law will need delicate handling by the Government. Some rules will need to be enshrined in statute.  However, it may be more appropriate in some areas for regulators to issue guidance and set standards. Any future regulatory regime will likely result in a significant increase in the powers of domestic regulators.  It is vital that Brexit, in transferring powers to domestic regulators, should not result in an unintended deficit in democratic scrutiny and accountability.
  5. Open and globalised capital markets are in the interests of both the UK and the EU.  Operating against the backdrop of a robust regulatory framework, they promote financial stability and give businesses and consumers access to the products and services they need. The Government has stated that the UK will leave the EU Single Market – this allows free flow of financial services across the borders of all Member States.
  6. It is imperative that Brexit does not undermine the benefits of participation in a globalised financial system.  In agreeing the relationship between the UK and the EU post-Brexit, both sides should favour an end state allowing mutual market access.  Fragmentation would lead to costs increasing and to financial stability deteriorating.  The dangers of disintegration are already apparent in proposals that envisage the possibility of relocating the clearing activity of central counterparties (CCPs) to the EU.
  7. In defining the future environment for financial services, regulation and supervision are key.  Brexit does not automatically entail divergence from the EU’s standards - and there are sound reasons for the UK to maintain a high degree of regulatory alignment with the EU in financial services as part of preserving mutual market access.
  8. An agreement based merely on the EU’s present ‘equivalence’ framework would not be a reliable long-term basis for either the UK or the EU.   Any form of alignment that renders the UK a de facto rule taker would not be acceptable, given that future EU regulation may not be appropriate to the needs of the UK economy.  The Government has said it will seek a close economic partnership with the EU, based on a free trade agreement (FTA).  We agree that such an arrangement would be beneficial for both the UK and the EU.
  9. An agreement on mutual access would need to be underpinned by broad and deep supervisory cooperation between the UK and EU.  The foundations for this already exist, based in part on the renowned technical expertise of UK regulators.  We conclude that both sides should maintain this cooperation, given its importance for the safety and soundness of the fabric of cross-border financial institutions that has developed as a result of the evolution of the Single Market.
  10. The UK financial services industry is a major part of the UK’s own economy.  In light of this, the Government urgently needs to offer clarity on both the future relationship it will seek to achieve with the EU - and on transitional arrangements.  Without this clarity, firms may be forced to implement costly and potentially irreversible contingency plans.  The Government also needs to ensure, both immediately post-Brexit and over the longer term, that the financial services industry continues to have access to the global talent on which it depends, including reviewing its visa policies.
  11. One immediate issue the Government faces in moving towards the future relationship will be transposing the EU’s body of law into UK law.
  12. As the UK takes over regulation hitherto defined in EU law, the future of financial regulation and supervision will devolve upon the domestic regulators: the Bank of England, Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority.  This will require Government and Parliament to give thought to their role in overseeing the exercise of these powers, including consideration of the extra resources that may be required.
  13. Once the UK has the capacity to exercise greater control over its domestic legislation, it will be able to tailor the regulatory framework to its own priorities in order to foster innovation, for example in the UK’s burgeoning FinTech industry.  There are also aspects of the EU regime that are less appropriate for the domestic UK market and that in some respects diverge from international standards.  We conclude that opportunities for varying the regulatory framework where appropriate should be welcomed. 
  14. In putting in place a suitable domestic regime, UK must not abandon the international standards that have been crucial to repairing the global financial system since the post-2008 crisis.  The UK has been instrumental in shaping and promoting those standards and has consistently advocated their faithful implementation.  The UK must continue to invest in and promote global standards if it wishes to see them maintained.
  15. International standards could provide a bridge between the UK and the EU in defining a future relationship based on shared outcomes, rather than the literal interpretation of rulebooks.

The report concludes with the belief that a future relationship can be secured that is to the benefit of both the UK and EU - provided that a mutual commitment to effective regulation and supervision is maintained.

The final word goes to Baroness Falkner: "The financial services sector needs greater clarity from the Government about what it wants after Brexit, and it needs it now. A transition period is meaningless without a destination.

"Brexit is an opportunity to tailor the regulatory regime to strengthen the UK's financial services sector, but the UK must remain committed to the international standards put in place following the financial crisis and continue to shape them to ensure a robust regulatory regime."

The full 96 page report can be found at:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201719/ldselect/ldeucom/66/66.pdf

Brexit-Partners have subsumed the findings into our approach to Brexit scenario and response planning.

 

 

John ShuttleworthComment