Commission issues proposal to reform EU venture capital rules – 14 July
The European Commission has published its long anticipated Regulation to reform the EU venture capital framework, by the introduction of changes to two existing venture capital Regulations (345/2013 on venture capital funds and 346/2013 on social entrepreneurship funds). The proposal forms a part of the EU’s CMU Action Plan. The above-mentioned Regulations established the framework for the so-called EuVECA (venture capital) and EuSEF (European social entrepreneurship) funds. The proposed amendments in particular:
Both the European Parliament and the Council will subsequently form their respective positions on the Commission proposal, and then negotiate (‘trilogues’) in order to find a compromise. The process will take several months at the very least. On top of the amending Regulation, the Commission will take additional measures in order to further revamp the European venture capital sector. These include:
Commission publishes summary of responses to the consultation on retail financial services – 14 July
The European Commission has published a summary of received responses to its public consultation on retail financial services. Unsurprisingly, the consultation responses revealed visible differences between types of respondents. For example, consumer organisations emphasised the need for simpler and better products but not necessarily more products for cross-border sales, whilst firms tended to argue that there is insufficient demand from consumers who would simply not want to purchase products when sold cross-border.
“Fears grow Brexit will slow Capital Markets Union” – 17 July
According to the Financial Times (article only available to subscribers), many stakeholders are expecting the CMU project to lose some political momentum as a result of the Brexit. At the same time, asset managers fear that they will be left on the side-lines. Fears are also growing that a UK departure might lead to less industry friendly rules in the CMU.
Remarks by Vice-President Dombrovskis at the Atlantic Council – 18 July
The Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, now responsible for the CMU dossier, has delivered a speech for the occasion of an Atlantic Council meeting. In his speech, Mr. Dombrovskis emphasises that a CMU is a high priority despite a prospective Brexit. He lists a number of measures expected for this year, including a proposal to further harmonise insolvency procedures across the EU, as well as assessing the case for a EU framework on personal pensions. The Commission is, moreover, working on follow-up to the call for evidence on EU financial sector legislation, with the view of ensuring that it is proportionate, fit for purpose and not too burdensome on the industry.
Public consultation on a potential EU personal pension framework – 27 July
The European Commission has launched its long-anticipated public consultation on a possible EU personal pension framework. The consultation (and any proposal that comes out as a result of it) links directly to the Commission’s CMU project. The establishment of a EU personal pensions framework would seek linking retail investors, and specifically long-term savers, with long-term investment opportunities.
The consultation maintains that the key features of a EU personal pensions framework are trustworthiness, cost effectiveness and transparency. It asks for relevant stakeholders’ views on each of these areas. Transparency specifically involves ensuring the provision of relevant information on personal pension products to consumers. Key dimensions here are the nature (information requirements), frequency of disclosure and presentation of information. The consultation states that:
In terms of next steps, the deadline for providing comments is 31 October. Any follow-up action is expected months afterwards, once the Commission has properly analysed the received stakeholder input.
Hearing with Commissioner Dombrovskis in ECON Committee – 6 July
The Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis has appeared at a hearing of the European Parliament ECON Committee. The Vice-President is picking up the CMU dossier from the ex-Commissioner Hill who resigned as a consequence of the Brexit vote. During the hearing, the Vice-President committed to continuity, and emphasised that Brexit makes the CMU even more important. With regard to the call for evidence, the Vice-President emphasised that the Commission will look into issues of proportionality, effects on the availability of funding and costs of compliance of current EU financial sector legislation.
ECON Committee votes on Prospectus Regulation, Plenary vote to follow in autumn – 13 July
The ECON Committee of the European Parliament has voted on its draft report on Prospectus Regulation – a dossier led by the MEP Petr Jezek (ALDE/CZE). The ECON Committee report was intended to form the formal negotiation position of the Parliament in the upcoming trilogues with the Council, after which the negotiation outcome would have been submitted for Plenary. Against these expectations, however, the report will go to Plenary this autumn after all, thereby delaying the legislative process by months.
During the vote, a number of compromise amendments were adopted. Of particular interest, the following amendments on the so-called EU Growth Prospectus (applicable to SMEs for example) were approved:
As with the Commission proposal, the Parliament draft report leaves the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) with the freedom of establishing, on a technical level, the exact disclosure requirements and formats based on political guidance from the three main institutions. It remains to be seen whether the Plenary vote in autumn will significantly alter the ECON Committee position.
Simple, transparent and standardised (STS) securitisation proposal – 8 July
The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEPs Marco Zanni (EFDD/ITA) and Marco Valli (EFDD/ITA) with regard to the Commission proposal on simple, transparent and standardised (STS) securitisation. In their question, the MEPs ask the Commission why it has not addressed the apparent issue of aggregate demand which they maintain is at the root of the financial crisis, why the Commission is subsidising the “shadow banking” sector as a means of ensuring financing for SMEs, and why it has decided to reduce the risk weight for senior securitisation exposures to 10%. In his reply, ex-Commissioner Hill maintains that the securitisation proposals form a part of wider reforms designed to increase funding channels whilst reducing borrowing costs. Moreover, he states that the proposal entails no subsidies whatsoever, and are designed merely to support the “normal functioning of markets”. And finally, the Commission based its risk weight reduction on “empirical analysis” conducted by the European Banking Authority (EBA).
Sustainability in the Capital Markets Union – 22 July
The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens-EFA/GER) with regard to sustainability in the CMU. In his question, Mr. Bütikofer asks the Commission whether it will create a “multi-stakeholder process” in order to properly insert climate and other Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks into EU financial sector legislation, whether it will do so in the context of the 2017 review of the CMU, and whether it will develop a “sustainable finance strategy” as part of the anticipated EU2030 strategy. In his reply, Vice-President Dombrovskis argues that the Commission has already undertaken several initiatives focusing on climate and sustainability, including a consultation on the degree to which institutional investors take ESG issues into account. Moreover, at the G20 level guidelines for voluntary company disclosures of climate-related reporting are under preparation – which the Commission follows closely. The Commission will take this work into account when it prepares its own non-binding non-financial reporting guidelines by the end of 2016.
Financing of small businesses – 22 July
The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Ivan Štefanec (EPP/SVK) with regard to financing for small businesses. In his question, Mr. Štefanec asks the Commission whether it is planning further measures to simplify funding for SMEs through venture capital funds. In her reply, Commissioner Bieńkowska (internal market, industry, entrepreneurship, SMEs) refers to the recently published Commission proposals on venture capital (see article above in the European Commission section) as examples of measures that the Commission has taken towards this direction.
27/09/2016, Next steps on ESAs: funding and governance, Financial Future, Brussels.
08/11/2016, Cross-border distribution of funds, Financial Future, Brussels.
06/12/2016, Pan-European Personal Pension products, Financial Future, Brussels.
07/12/2016, FEE 30 years’ anniversary, Federation of European Accountants (FEE), Brussels.