Politics

EU bottles it! Brussels ‘wakes up’ to risk of raiding City of London in finance war

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Although there have been fears the City may lose its place as the dominant European financial market, commentator Ben Wright suggests the UK remains the destination for clearing houses. A clearing house is an intermediary between a buyer and a seller in a financial market. The clearing house validates the transaction between the two and makes sure both honour their obligations.

While Brussels may want to shift influence to the EU, the bloc realises many firms want to remain in the UK.

LCH is the clearing house owned by the London Stock Exchange.

It manages roughly 90 percent of all euro-denominated derivatives, Mr Wright suggests in his column for The Telegraph, pointing to “a notional value of something like $100 trillion”.

Mr Wright notes: “If the ECB were to decree that all euro-denominated derivatives had to be cleared in the eurozone, it would severely diminish the EU’s reputation as an open economy and the euro as a global currency.

“It’s worth remembering that some 90pc of dollar-denominated trades are also cleared in London and the US is fine with that.”

Mr Wright also quoted William Wright from think tank New Financial, who said: “Clearing is a constant reminder to Brussels that London is where a lot of international firms choose to do lots of their business while the EU is a location where they have to do some of their business.

“Of course, if the EU regulators were to force firms to clear their euro-denominated trades in the eurozone it would only further underline that point.”

Following Brexit, the EU did not grant the UK equivalence meaning firms must apply two sets of rules to trade.

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Due to this, some cities, such as Amsterdam and Paris, did see an increase in share trading.

Clearing houses, however, have still operated under EU equivalence post-Brexit.

Mairead McGuinness, EU Financial Services Commissioner, said last week a decision over whether the UK clearing houses will continue to have equivalence will be delayed until next year.

She said: “I will propose an extension of the equivalence decision for UK CCPs in early 2022.

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“The extension of equivalence should be long enough to allow us to revise the EU supervisory system for CCPs.

“This proposed way forward strikes a balance between safeguarding financial stability in the short term — which requires taking an equivalence decision to avoid a cliff-edge for EU market participants — and safeguarding financial stability in the medium term — which requires us to reduce this risky over-reliance on a third country.”

The UK has insisted it cannot shift to EU rules and regulations as it would defeat the purpose of Brexit.

Away from financial services, the EU and UK will hold talks over the Northern Ireland protocol next week. 

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