In our recent blog article Risiken für den Finanzmarkt durch Brexit – Die europäischen Aufsichtsbehörden legen Standard für die EU-27 fest we gave an overview of the opinions and reports published by the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), together the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs), on the standards the ESAs expect of market participants within the EU post Brexit.
On Monday this week, the European Banking Authority (EBA) published a further opinion on preparations for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The opinion concerns the activities of credit institutions, investment firms, payment service providers and e-money institutions preparing for Brexit and is addressed to the national authorities, the ECB and the Single Resolution Board. EBA’s view should also be taken seriously by market participants since EBA expects the national authorities to ensure that financial institutions are preparing adequately for Brexit. Two years after the Brexit referendum EBA emphasizes that the recent political agreement on a transition period until end of 2020 does not provide any legal certainty until a withdrawal agreement is ratified at the end of the process for the departure of the UK from the EU. EBA points out that in their opinion there remains a material possibility that – despite best efforts on both sides – a ratified withdrawal agreement will not be concluded, in which case the UK would leave the EU on 30 March 2019 by operation of law without a transition period.
Without a ratified withdrawal agreement and thus without a transition period, the UK will become a third country for the purposes of the EU’s legal framework in March 2019. Through its engagement with the national competent authorities EBA expressed its worry that contingency planning and other preparations undertaken by financial institutions in UK as well as in the EU-27 should advance more rapidly. Although the political process is still ongoing and will hopefully lead to an agreement after all, EBA is adamant that financial institutions should not rely on public sector solutions, as “they may not be proposed and/or agreed”.
Financial institutions are required to assess the implications of Brexit for themselves and to prepare a suitable contingency plan. Some of the points explicitly mentioned in the recent opinion which need identifying and taking care of are:
- direct financial exposures to and existing contracts with UK (for EU27 financial institutions) or EU27 (for UK financial institutions) counterparties;
- reliance on UK (for EU27 financial institutions) or EU27 (for UK financial institutions) financial market infrastructures, including central counterparties (CCPs) and related ancillary services;
- the storage of data in, and transfer of data to, the UK (for EU27 financial institutions) or the EU27 (for UK financial institutions); and
- reliance on funding markets in the UK (for EU27 financial institutions) – including for issuances of instruments eligible for minimum requirements for own funds and eligible liabilities.
In case a financial institution still requires a new license to carry out business in the EU-27 post Brexit, the application should have been filed before the end of June to receive a timely authorisation prior to 30 March 2019.
Another focus is customer communication. Financial institutions are expected to ensure that they have assessed their obligations to their customers and the continuity of services and contractual commitments. Communication with customers should be sought as early as possible and by the end of 2018 at the latest.
One day after the publication by EBA, BaFin re-published EBA’s newest opinion on Brexit on its own website.