John Glen – 2020 Statement on Financial Markets after Exiting the European Union

Below is the text of the statement made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in the House of Commons on 16 June 2020.

I welcome my opposite number, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden), to his place. He has a distinguished history of public service and I look forward to a constructive dialogue with him today and on future occasions.

As the House will be aware, the Treasury has been undertaking a significant programme of financial services legislation since 2018, introducing almost 60 statutory instruments under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It has been an enormous privilege for me to do the vast majority of those measures. These SIs were made prior to exit day—31 January 2020—and covered all essential legislative changes needed to ensure a coherent and functioning financial services regime at the point of exit, had the UK not entered a transition period.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 received Royal Assent in January this year. The 2020 Act contains a general rule that delays those parts of the SIs that would have come into force immediately before, on or after exit day, so that they instead come into force by reference to the end of the transition period, which we leave at the end of this year. Over the course of this year the Treasury will therefore, where necessary, continue to use powers under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, as amended by the 2020 Act, to prepare for 1 January 2021. This will involve the Treasury bringing forward a small number of SIs that, in particular, will ensure that recently applicable EU legislation will operate effectively in the UK at the end of the transition period. The SIs before the House today are two such instruments. The approach taken in these SIs is aligned with the general approach established by the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, providing continuity by retaining existing legislation at the end of the transition period but amending where necessary to ensure effectiveness in the UK-only context.

I turn to the draft Over the Counter Derivatives, Central Counterparties and Trade Repositories (Amendment, etc., and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. From now on, I will refer to this instrument as the OTC SI. In preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020, Parliament approved several ​EU exit instruments to ensure that the European market infrastructure regulation would continue to operate effectively in the UK at the point of exit. EMIR was updated on 1 January this year by a regulation known as EMIR 2.2, which now applies in the UK. The OTC SI that we are discussing today address deficiencies in the UK’s post-transition framework arising as a result of that update.

EMIR is Europe’s response to the G20 Pittsburgh commitment in 2009 to regulate over-the-counter derivative markets in the aftermath of the last financial crisis. EMIR mandates the use of central counterparties, known as CCPs, to manage risk between users of derivative products. EMIR has been effective in increasing the safety and transparency of derivative markets, thereby reducing the associated risks that users may face, and UK CCPs play an essential role in reducing systemic risk and ensuring the efficient functioning of global financial markets.

EMIR 2.2 introduced an updated third country or non-EU CCP supervision framework, including an updated recognition regime. This means that EU authorities can have greater oversight over third country CCPs that are systemically important to the EU. Perhaps the most substantial update in EMIR 2.2 is the ability for the European Securities and Markets Authority to tier third country CCPs according to their systemic importance to the EU as part of the recognition process. ESMA will now take on certain supervisory responsibilities for systemic third country CCPs known as tier 2 CCPs.

This OTC SI updates the UK’s recognition framework in line with EMIR 2.2 by transferring ESMA’s new powers to the Bank of England after we leave the transition period. That includes the ability to tier non-UK CCPs as part of the recognition process, and to supervise non-UK CCPs that are systemically important to the UK. The Bank of England has already been given the power to recognise non-UK CCPs wishing to operate in the UK in an earlier SI under the EU (Withdrawal) Act. EMIR 2.2 also empowers the Commission to adopt delegated Acts setting out the details of how the framework will function in practice. This includes how tiering and deference to the rules of home authorities referred to as “comparable compliance” will function. This instrument transfers the power to establish these frameworks to the Bank of England.

Since the Bank already has responsibility for safeguarding financial stability in general, and managing systemic risk in CCPs in particular, this is an appropriate conferral of functions as it allows the Bank to manage the systemic risk posed by some non-UK CCPs in a way that is appropriate for the UK. The statutory instrument therefore transfers the remaining Commission functions—including the power to deploy the so-called location policy—to Her Majesty’s Treasury.

Under EMIR 2.2, ESMA can recommend to the Commission that a third-country CCP that is felt to be substantially systemically important should lose permission to offer some services to EU clearing members, unless those services are offered from inside the EU. This is referred to as the location policy, the inclusion of which in EMIR 2.2 the UK did not support because of concerns that it could lead to market fragmentation and reduce the benefits provided by the global nature of clearing. However, the powers in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 under which we introduced the SI extend only ​to the addressing of deficiencies arising from withdrawal. During the passage of that legislation, commitments were made that the powers would not be used to make significant policy changes, so I am not going to deviate from that.

The OTC SI transfers the powers to use the location policy to the Treasury, subject to advice from the Bank of England and appropriate procedural safeguards and transitional provisions. I assure the House that because of the very different nature of the UK’s clearing markets, it is hard to foresee circumstances in which the Bank would appropriate the use of that tool in practice. EMIR 2.2 also makes changes to internally used supervisory and co-operation mechanisms but, as the UK is no longer part of the EU, those provisions are removed by the SI.

Finally, the OTC SI updates the recognition powers set out in the temporary recognition regime, which was established by a previous SI to enable non-UK CCPs to continue their activities in the UK after exit day, while their recognition applications are assessed. This SI updates the recognition requirements in line with the new EMIR 2.2 provisions. The Treasury has worked closely with the Bank of England to prepare the instrument and has also engaged with the financial services industry, as we have done throughout. The draft legislation has been publicly available on the website since 24 February, and the instrument was laid before Parliament on 25 March.

In summary, the OTC SI is necessary to ensure that existing EMIR legislation will continue to function effectively in the UK from the end of the transition period, following the updates made in EMIR 2.2. In particular, it will ensure that the UK has the tools necessary to manage the financial stability risks posed by some of the largest non-UK CCPs.

Let me turn my attention towards the second of tonight’s SIs, the Financial Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Although this SI makes amendments to approximately 20 pieces of legislation, the number and nature of the amendments are modest and minor. They act to preserve the effect of recent changes to EU legislation in the UK, and in doing so limit any impact on business that would otherwise arise at the end of the transition period.

Primarily, this SI fixes deficiencies in recently applicable EU legislation, which is congruous with the Treasury’s approach to previous financial services EU exit instruments and the approach required by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It also revokes pieces of retained EU law and UK domestic law that it would not be appropriate to keep on the statute book at the end of the transition period.

This SI contains a small number of minor clarifications and corrections to previous financial services EU exit instruments. The House will be aware of the unprecedented scale of the legislative programme that the Treasury has undertaken, which has been carried out with rigorous checking procedures. However, errors are unfortunately made on occasion, and when they arise it is important that they are corrected as soon as possible. This has happened previously, and I will continue to be completely transparent when such shortcomings become apparent.​

I note that this SI also includes provisions initially included in the Cross-Border Distribution of Funds, Proxy Advisors, Prospectus and Gibraltar (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which were laid using the made affirmative procedure in October 2019, when at the time it was necessary to ensure that the SI was in place prior to the previous exit date of 31 October. That SI subsequently ceased to have effect, but it is important that those provisions, which include amendments to the UK’s prospectus regime to ensure it remains operational in a wholly domestic context, are in force before the end of the transition period. Those provisions have therefore been included in this IS.

I would like to say a few words on the amendments that this SI makes to a previous EU exit instrument, the Equivalence Determinations for Financial Services and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which I shall now refer to as the equivalence SI. The equivalence SI allows the Treasury to make equivalence directions for EEA states during the transition period for specified provisions. Today’s SI adds additional equivalence regimes to the scope of the power for the Treasury to make equivalence directions for EEA states during the transition period. This is through the inclusion of provisions relating to central securities depositories, which are entities that hold financial instruments and trade repositories that collect and maintain records of derivative trades.

This SI also amends the existing drafting on the length of the direction power to tie it to the end of the transition period. This will enable Ministers to make directions during the transition period to come into force at the end of the transition period, granting equivalence to the EEA for those regimes. Finally, this SI clarifies that the Treasury can impose limitations on the application of state-level equivalence decisions in granting equivalence to the EEA—for example, in response to EU conditions placed on the UK. As with the OTC SI, the Treasury has been working closely with the financial services regulators in the drafting of this instrument and has engaged with the financial services industry.

In conclusion, the Government believe that these instruments are necessary to ensure that the UK has a coherent and functioning financial services regulatory regime at the end of this year when we leave the transition period, and I hope that the House will join me in supporting them. I commend the regulations the House.