ESMA Supervisory briefing on the supervision of non-EU branches of EU firms providing investment services and activities

With Brexit coming up, many companies, especially those in the financial sector, have taken precautions and relocated their EU head offices to one of the 27 remaining EU member state to ensure that, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, they will have access to the European single market.  Offices in the UK, which will qualify as a third country after Brexit, will often be operated as branches.

On February 6, 2019, ESMA published its MIFID II Supervisory briefing on the supervision of non-EU branches of EU firms providing investment services and activities. Through its new Supervisory briefing, ESMA aims to ensure effective oversight of the non-EU branches by the competent authority of the firm´s home member state.

This article provides an overview of the measures proposed by ESMA to national regulatory authorities, divided into three areas: (i) ESMA´s supervisory expectations in relation to the authorisation of investment firms; (ii) the supervision of ongoing activities of non-EU branches by the competent authority; and (iii) ESMA´s proposed supervisory activity of the competent authority.

Supervisory expectations in relation to the authorisation of investment firms

The relocation of a company to the EU means that an authorisation covering the respective business model must be applied for in the respective EU member state. The authorisation procedure must, inter alia, include a description of the company’s organisational structure, including its non-EU branches. The competent authority should be satisfied that the use of the non-EU branch is based on objective reasons linked to the services provided in the non-EU jurisdiction and does not result in situations where such non-EU branches perform material functions or provide services back into the EU, while the office relocated to the EU is only used as a letter box entity. To this end, the competent authority should make its judgement on the substance of the business activity, the organisation, the governance and the risk management arrangements of the applicant in relation to the establishment and the use of branches in non-EU jurisdictions. Therefore, the firm´s program of operations should explain how the relocated EU head office will be able to monitor and manage any non-EU branch, clarify the role of the non-EU branch and provide detailed information, such as:

  • an overview of how the non-EU branch will contribute to the investment firm´s strategy;
  • the activities and functions that will be performed by the non-EU branch;
  • a description of how the firm will ensure that any local requirements in the non-EU jurisdiction do not interfere with the compliance by the EU firm with legal requirements applicable to it in accordance with EU law.

Supervision of ongoing activities of non-EU branches

In order to allow the competent authority to appropriately monitor firms providing investment services or activities on an ongoing basis, firms should provide the competent authority of its home member state with relevant information on any new non-EU branch that they plan to establish or on any material change in the activities of non-EU branches already established. Therefore, the competent authority should, taking into account the importance of non-EU branches for the relevant firm, request on an ad hoc or a periodic basis, information on, inter alia:

  • the number and the geographical distribution of clients served by the non-EU branches;
  • the activities and the functions provided by the non-EU branch to the EU head office.

Supervisory activity of the competent authority

The competent authority should put in place internal criteria and arrangements to supervise comprehensively and in sufficient depth the activities that branches of EU firms under their supervision perform outside of the EU. For that purpose, the competent authority should prepare plans for the supervision of non-EU branches of EU firms and identify resources dedicated to this activity. These resources should be capable of performing a critical screening of the firms under their supervision that have established non-EU branches, including, information received or requested in relation to these branches.


As the Supervisory briefing shows, EU supervisors are urged by ESMA to ensure that companies relocating to the EU as a result of Brexit are not just used as mere letter box entities to gain access to the European single market and the actual investment services are provided via the non-EU branch. Therefore, the competent authorities should take a closer look at the firm´s non-EU branches, to ensure that the branch has the function of a branch not only on paper but also in practice. Investment firms should be prepared for this supervisory practice.

The BREXIT Agreement – what it means for enforcing judgments across the European Union

The client alert is available for download here.

The UK, as an EU Member State, currently benefits from the mutual recognition and enforcement mechanisms that operate across all 28 EU member states under the so- called “Recast Brussels Regulation”.

The Recast Brussels Regulation provides a simplified EU-wide mechanism for the mutual recognition and enforcement of court judgments in EU Member States. A judgment creditor simply has to provide the competent enforcement authority in another Member State (for example, where the judgment debtor has assets) with a copy of the judgment and a standard-form certificate and it can then begin the enforcement process. No other procedure is required to enforce its judgment, and there is no review of the merits.

There is a very high bar for refusal of recognition and enforcement under the Recast Brussels Regulation. This means that, in general, a party armed with an English judgment has a speedy process to enforce that judgment in any other EU member state such as Germany, Italy, Spain, or France without recourse to local law. Similarly a judgment from any other Member State is currently easily enforced in the UK.

The Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (the “Draft Withdrawal Agreement”) was published on 14 November 2018, and has been approved by the other Member States. While its future is far from certain, and it is not impossible that there will be revisions to a number of its clauses including the proposed length of the “Transition Period”, it is very likely that some form of disengagement with the Recast Brussels Regulation will accompany the UK’s departure from the EU.

Nonetheless, under Article 67 of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement, the current regime for mutual recognition of judgments will soon no longer apply in the U.K. The Recast Brussels Regulation will cease to apply to proceedings commenced after the end of the Transition Period – currently due to end in December 2020. If there is a “no deal” Brexit, it would cease to apply to any proceedings commenced after 29 March 2019.

Unless there is a further agreement to govern mutual recognition of judgments agreed before that date the UK courts will revert to the application of common law rules of recognition and enforcement, where the grounds for refusing to recognise a foreign judgment include matters such as whether the other party participated in the foreign proceedings, and whether (on an English law analysis) the foreign court had jurisdiction over the defendant at the time the foreign proceedings were commenced.

It is almost inevitable that the recognition process here of judgments from EU Member States will lengthen, become more costly, and see a significant increase in the successful resistance of enforcement. It should be born in mind, however, that the position will be the same as currently applies to judgments from the United States.

Enforcement of English judgments across the European Union will, in turn, become subject to the widely-varying national laws of each EU Member State. The process of enforcing an English judgment in a Member State is likely to prove more costly and onerous (with a lower rate of success) than the current streamlined procedure.

As a result of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement clients and friends completing jurisdiction and dispute resolution clauses in contracts involving parties from EU Member States would be advised to consider their options carefully, including the option of arbitration, in light of the future disapplication of the Brussels regime.

On the same timetable as the disapplication of the Recast Brussels Regulation, the Draft Withdrawal Agreement will also disapply two other European instruments which currently set the rules on deciding which law applies in both contractual and non- contractual disputes where there is no written agreement specifying the governing law. These are the so-called Rome I (choice of law in contractual disputes) and Rome II (choice of law in non-contractual disputes) conventions. At the same time as parties pay closer attention to their choice of jurisdiction for their disputes, parties should also pay closer attention to specifying their governing law.

Germany is paving the way for an informal transition period for the financial market in case of hard Brexit

On 20 November 2018, the Federal Ministry of Finance of Germany published a Draft Act on Tax-Related Provisions concerning the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union.

The Draft Act proposes amendments to the German Banking Act (Kreditwesengesetz) and the Insurance Supervision Act (Versicherungsaufsichtsgesetz) and aims to avoid any harm to the functioning or stability of financial markets in case of a hard Brexit, i.e., the withdrawal of the UK from the EU by the end of March 2019 without an agreement.

BaFin will be allowed to grant a transition period until the end of 2020 for passporting financial services into Germany

The proposed amendment to the KWG will allow the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) to permit firms based in the UK, which have been providing cross-border banking or financial services based on a European passport before Brexit, to continue to operate financial transactions in Germany until the end of 2020 at the latest. The proposal reads:

In the event that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland withdraws from the European Union at midnight on 29 March 2019 without having concluded an agreement on withdrawal from the European Union […] the Supervisory Authority may determine, in order to prevent disadvantages for the capacity of financial markets to function or for their stability, that the [passporting] provisions […] are to be applied accordingly, fully or partially, for a period of up to 21 months following the time of withdrawal, to companies based in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland that on 29 March 2019 conduct banking business or provide financial services in Germany through a branch in Germany or by providing cross-border services [under the passporting regime]. [This] only applies to financial transactions that are completed after 29 March 2019 insofar as these transactions are closely connected to transactions that existed at the time of withdrawal.

As already mentioned here the FCA has been planning to take similar precautions for a hard Brexit. Now Germany is following.

The Draft Act, which needs to go through parliament before entering into force, authorises BaFin to extend the current passporting regime at its own discretion. BaFin may adopt a generally applicable rule for all institutions concerned or restrict it to individual supervisory areas that are highly affected. The transition period can also be shortened by BaFin. In addition, BaFin may attach conditions to its permission regime and abolish its measures at any time.

According to the currently proposed wording of the Draft Act, the transition period only applies to financial transactions concluded before Brexit. New financial transactions are only included if they are closely related to existing ones.

During the transition period, the companies concerned must prepare themselves to either apply for a respective license in Germany in order to to submit their German business to the supervisory regime for third countries, or to bring their German business to an end.

Transition period also proposed for the insurance sector

The Draft Act authorises BaFin to adopt a similar transition period for insurance undertakings in order to avoid disadvantages for policyholders and beneficiaries. This will enable insurance companies based in the UK to either transfer or terminate existing contracts within a reasonable timeframe, or meet the necessary prudential requirements for an orderly run-off of such contracts, where this is not possible.

Draft Act subject to European law

In case the EU comes up with a similar and uniform transition rule to protect the financial markets from any chaotic disruption due to Brexit, the EU rule will prevail.

How to Handle Brexit as a Fund Manager

By Dr. Verena Ritter-Doering of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt and Mosle LLP and Uwe Lill of GFD FINANZKOMMUNIKATION

The good old days seem to be over. Once Brexit gets real, the current passporting rules will no longer be available and new rules will apply for UK fund managers with EU clients. With or without equivalence, the UK will become a third country from an EU perspective, which raises three key questions that you will need to answer in order to chart the path forward: 1. Where is your fund located? 2. Where is your fund manager located? And 3. Where are you undertaking sales activities to address your EU clients?

To put it simply, there are seven different ways to serve your existing EU clients after Brexit, or to build new relationships with EU clients. We will show you in this Brexit map which route you will need to take to remain successful. In addition to considering the legal setup , it will be equally important to evaluate the way you communicate if you want to grow your EU customer base. For example, you must consider what should be taken into account when informing media in the unique German-speaking market.

For background information and details on this ongoing process (which may change on a daily basis!), please do not hesitate to contact us. We are very happy to share our expert knowledge with you.

Please click on this link to view the Brexit Tube Map for Fund Managers

FCA re-confirms temporary permission regime for inbound passporting EEA firms in case of a hard Brexit – the EU stays strict for now

Brexit will have an impact on the European and the UK financial market. Cross-border services will still be possible but the legal set-up will change and will get more complicated than the current passporting regime. Anyone who provides banking business or financial services in Germany without the appropriate license is committing a criminal offence. If charged, the person committing the criminal offence can become subject to a prison sentence (up to 5 years in case of intention and up to 3 years in case of negligence) or a monetary fine.

Outbound from the UK

If there is no implementation period when the UK withdraws from the EU, the UK will become a ‘third-country’ in relation to the EU and the current passporting regime will no longer cover the provision of financial services, payment services or the management and distribution of funds on a cross-border basis between the UK and continental Europe. Any UK person then providing any such business in Germany without the appropriate license, i.e., without a licensed set-up in Europe, will commit a criminal offence on a personal level.

The current political will in Europe does – at least at this stage – not cater for any easing of the strict criminal regime once the passporting rights of UK firms end due to Brexit.

Inbound to the UK

The FCA (backed by the UK Government) on the other hand just confirmed on October 10, 2018 that they are willing to protect the UK market by offering a transition period in case of a hard Brexit without a transition period. This will allow inbound EEA firms to continue operating in the UK within the scope of their current permissions for a limited period after the exit day, while seeking full UK authorisation. It will also allow funds with a passport to continue temporarily marketing in the UK while seeking UK recognition to continue to market in the UK.

The FCA expects the temporary permissions regime to come into force when the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019 and expects the regime to be in place for a maximum of three years, within which time, firms and funds will be required to obtain authorisation or recognition in the UK.

The FCA is currently consulting details of the rules they propose should apply to firms and funds during the temporary permissions regime.

What to do?

Firms will need to notify the FCA that they wish to use the temporary permissions regime.  This will be an online process and the FCA expects to open the notification window in early January 2019.  The notification window will close prior to exit day. Once the notification window has closed, firms that have not submitted a notification will not be able to use the temporary permissions regime. The FCA will then allocate firms a period (‘landing slot’) within which they will need to submit their application for UK authorisation.  After exit day, the FCA will confirm firms’ landing slots so they can start to prepare their applications. The first landing slot will be from October to December 2019 and the last will be from January to March 2021.

The regime will work in a similar way for EEA investment funds with fund managers notifying the FCA of the funds they want to continue to market in the UK.  As with firms, the FCA expects to start accepting notifications in early January 2019 and the notification window will close prior to exit day. Once the notification window has closed, fund managers that have not submitted a notification for a fund will be unable to use the temporary permissions regime for this fund and will not be able to continue marketing the fund in the UK.

It needs to be seen if the EU will align its supervisory authorities to a similar practice to ease disruption of the financial markets, should no deal be reached, and the UK will leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

Regional Court of Frankfurt – Ready for BREXIT?

“The language of the court is German”. This is a clear provision in the German Courts Constitution Act which reflects a long-standing tradition.

Remarkably, on 1 January 2018, the Regional Court of Frankfurt (Landgericht Frankfurt) introduced an English-speaking Chamber for Commercial Matters (see press release in German). Upon a party’s request to hear a commercial case in English, the dispute will automatically be assigned to this Chamber. If both parties agree, the hearings will be conducted in English.

The establishment of an English-speaking Chamber for Commercial Matters shall serve to establish Frankfurt as an international place of jurisdiction by bringing international proceedings, which have been conducted in England so far, to Frankfurt.  After BREXIT, the ease of recognition and enforcement of judgments within the European Union will no longer apply to judgments rendered by English courts.

Frankfurt is the right choice for taking over these proceedings not only due to its importance as a financial metropolis but also due to its infrastructure and special competence in commercial law.

However, it must be noted that the establishment of an English-speaking Chamber for Commercial Matters can only be seen as a first step in the right direction. The possibility of conducting hearings in English is offered only by the Regional Court of Frankfurt and not by the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt, which is competent for appeals against judgments of the Regional Court of Frankfurt. This means that hearings in instance of appeal will be held in German only.

In addition, only the hearings before the English-speaking Chamber for Commercial Matters will be conducted in English, whereas the written submissions and the decisions will continue to be prepared in German.

Nevertheless, irrespective of the English-speaking Chamber, there is already a general tendency in civil proceedings before the Regional Court of Frankfurt where judges feel able to accept English documents and correspondences submitted by the parties as evidence (i.e., as exhibits to their submissions) without requesting (certified) translations.

In future, it would also be desirable to establish more English-speaking chambers within the Regional Court of Frankfurt in order to enable a higher degree of specialization since commercial matters are defined broadly and can originate from completely different industrial sectors.

All in all, this initiative by the Regional Court of Frankfurt is to be welcomed, but more efforts must be made to increase the long term international acceptance of Germany as a place of jurisdiction, with its advantages such as comparative high efficiency and low procedural costs.

Why equivalence is not the easy solution for Brexit

When reading the news, one cannot deny that a hard Brexit may well be looming. While we all hope that a political solution will be agreed upon in the end, it still makes sense to discuss legal possibilities that might soften the impact if no agreement can be reached.

When it comes to the UK’s loss of access to the European single market, the „equivalence solution“ is almost automatically mentioned as a solution for the financial market. But what exactly does equivalence entail? And does it really represent a viable way for the UK and the EU in case of a hard Brexit? In this post we will provide an overview of the current equivalence regime within the European regulation.

In the event of a hard Brexit, the UK will lose access to the European single market overnight and will become a third country under European law. The solution for maintaining access to the European single market could be the so-called equivalence solution. This would allow companies established in third countries to gain access to the European single market, even if no bilateral agreement is concluded in time between the UK and the EU, which seems likely at the moment. The prerequisite is that the third country’s legal and supervisory standards would need to be recognised by the EU as equivalent to the European regulations. UK banking and financial services providers and fund managers would thus continue to have access to the European single market if the EU recognises the British legal and supervisory standard in the financial sector as equivalent to that of the EU. Since the UK currently applies EU regulations, this should at a first glance be a no-brainer.

However, the European legislator does not provide market access for third countries in all areas of banking and financial services easily through regulation. Specific third country rules are contained, for example, in:

  • the European Financial Markets Regulation (MiFIR);
  • the Second Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II);
  • the Regulation on OTC derivatives, central counterparties and trade repositories (EMIR); and
  • the Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFMD).

In the Fourth Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV), the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD II) and the UCITS Directive, the European legislator has not stipulated third country rules. In these contexts, access to the European single market through recognition of the equivalence of the supervisory regime is not currently possible. In the areas of the concerned financial services sectors (i.e. credit institutions, payment institutions and the management of UCITS), the UK would therefore be dependent on a bilateral agreement with the EU in any case in order to keep (or regain) access to the European single market.

In those areas where third country rules are provided for, the recognition procedure and the number of third countries recognised as equivalent differ.

For example, under EMIR, the following applies: If a Central Counterparty (CCP) established in a third country wishes to provide clearing services to clearing members or trading venues established in the EU, it may do so only if it has previously been recognised by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). For this purpose, the CCP must submit an application to ESMA. The latter may only recognise a CCP from a third country if the EU Commission has recognised the legal and supervisory mechanism of the third country as equivalent to that of the EU, and provided that the CCP is authorised in its home country and is subject to effective supervision and enforcement in that country. Moreover, it is required that ESMA has concluded a cooperation agreement with the local supervisory authorities which, for example, simplifies the exchange of information and the home country of the CCP must have an equivalent system for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. If these conditions are no longer met, ESMA may withdraw recognition from the CCP.

CCPs currently recognised by ESMA are located in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, South Korea, USA, UAE, India, Dubai International Financial Centre, Brazil and New Zealand.

The recognition procedure for trading venues under MiFIR is slightly different. It is not the trading venue for derivatives itself that can apply for equivalence. Rather, the EU may, at its own discretion and in cooperation with ESMA and the member states, issue a resolution recognising the legal and supervisory framework of a third country as equivalent to that of the EU. Before issuing a resolution, the member states must approve equivalence. The recognition of the equivalence of a third country in the area of MiFIR requires that: (i) the trading venues are admitted in their home country and are subject to effective and continuous supervision and enforcement; (ii) the trading venue has transparent admission rules; (iii) the issuers are subject to regular information obligations which guarantee a high level of investor protection and (iv) rules against market abuse in the form of insider dealing and market manipulation are in place.

So far, the EU has only recognised the USA as an equivalent third country under MiFIR. Under MiFID II, however, the EU has recognised four countries providing trading venues for other financial products (such as listed shares) as equivalent to EU venues: USA, Australia, Hong Kong and Switzerland (the recognition of Switzerland is limited to one year until 31 December 2018 but may be extended if there is sufficient progress on a common institutional framework).

This shows that even if the UK is recognised by the EU as a third country with equivalent regulatory standards, this is far from resolving all the difficulties.

On the one hand, the UK would actually have to maintain its current regulatory and supervisory standards and adapt to those of the EU in the future; a substantial deregulation is thus ruled out. A comparatively minor problem, on the other hand, is that the recognition of equivalence by the EU may well take some time. The UK’s supervisory standard currently corresponds to that of the EU, so if it were to be maintained after Brexit, there would at least be no legal grounds against swift recognition. However, much more serious for the UK, would be that as a third country they would no longer be able to influence the European legal and supervisory standards for lack of voting rights; they would be referred to the role of a „rule-taker“.

Therefore, it remains questionable whether recognition as an equivalent third country is really a good solution for the UK. The alternative would be one or more bilateral agreement(s) with a dispute settlement mechanism. In any event, the advantage of such an agreement would be that it would be negotiated by both sides and would not refer the UK to the passive role of an equivalent third country.

EBA konsultiert ein harmonisiertes Auslagerungsregime – Was erwartet den deutschen Markt?

Seit 22. Juni und noch bis 24. September 2018 konsultiert die EBA Richtlinien für ein harmonisiertes Auslagerungsregime. Anknüpfend an die Leitlinien zum Outsourcing des Commitee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS) aus dem Jahr 2006, die nur für Kreditinstitute Anwendung finden, möchte die EBA nun einen gemeinsamen europäischen Rahmen für Kreditinstitute und Finanzdienstleistungsunternehmen, Zahlungs- und E-Geld-Institute schaffen. Erfasst sind von dem neuen Vorstoß damit Institute, die der CRR und der PSD2 unterliegen. Nach wie vor nicht erfasst sind Fondsmanager. Grund dafür ist einfach, dass die EBA für diesen Bereich nicht zuständig ist. Hier wäre eine Zusammenarbeit mit der ESMA, die für den Fondsbereich Leitlinien erlassen kann, wünschenswert gewesen.

Zu begrüßen ist der Vorstoß der EBA dennoch vor dem Hintergrund, dass gerade für die FinTech-Szene Auslagerungen ein wichtiges Thema sind. Etablierte Institute, die intern keine eigenen Innovationen entwickeln, suchen häufig Kooperationspartner aus der FinTech-Szene. Im Rahmen solcher Kooperationen werden innovative Ideen von den etablierten Instituten angeboten, aber die (IT-)Leistungen erbringen oft die FinTechs im Rahmen einer Auslagerung. Es ist sicher sinnvoll, auf europäischer Ebene einen gemeinsamen Rahmen für Auslagerungen zu schaffen, damit auch FinTech-Unternehmen, die grenzüberschreitend tätig sein wollen, nicht mehrere nationale Standards einhalten müssen, was wiederum Kosten verursacht. Die Empfehlungen der EBA zur Auslagerung an Cloud-Anbieter,die bereits im März 2018 veröffentlicht wurden, sind in die Konsultation integriert worden.

Nach dem Vorschlag der EBA werden die Anforderungen an das Auslagerungsmanagement und an Auslagerungsverträge für CRR-Institute und Zahlungsinstitute angeglichen. Die Vorgaben des Zahlungsdiensteaufsichtsgesetzes (ZAG), das für Zahlungs- und E-Geld-Institute gilt, waren bislang weniger streng als die des Kreditwesengesetzes (KWG), das für Kreditinstitute und Finanzdienstleistungsunternehmen Anwendung findet. In der Praxis orientierten sich aber auch Zahlungsdienstleister bereits an der Verwaltungspraxis der BaFin zum Outsourcing für Kreditinstitute. Ein neuer einheitlicher Rahmen verschafft hier Klarheit. Da der Proportionalitätsgrundsatz auch nach den konsultierten Auslagerungsleitlinien erhalten bleiben soll, können Institute und Zahlungsinstitute künftig weiterhin abhängig von ihrem Geschäftsmodell ihr Auslagerungsmanagement in angemessener Weise gestalten.

Zentrale Punkte bleiben weiterhin, dass Auslagerungen im Risikomanagement abgebildet werden müssen, dass interne Kontrollmechanismen etabliert werden, dass die Datensicherheit in jedem Fall gewährleistet bleibt und dass das Institutsmanagement die letzte Verantwortung für ausgelagerte Prozesse behält. Die Vorgaben an Auslagerungsverträge bringen ebenfalls keine Neuerungen. Festgeschrieben ist nun, dass Serviceleistungen, die eine Erlaubnis einer Aufsichtsbehörde erfordern, nur von lizensierten Dienstleistern erbracht werden dürfen. Jedes Institut soll künftig eine schriftlich festgehaltene Auslagerungs-Policy vorhalten, deren Vorgaben etwas ausführlicher sind, als das bisher der Fall ist. Eine recht aufwändige Neuerung ist, dass geplante Auslagerungen von kritischen oder wichtigen Funktionen, inklusive wesentlicher Auslagerungen an Cloud-Servicedienstleister, nach dem Entwurf der EBA künftig vorher der zuständigen Behörde angezeigt werden sollen. Auch wesentliche Änderungen in einem solchen Auslagerungsverhältnis sollen der Behörde zeitnah mitgeteilt werden. Hier wird abzuwarten sein, wie sich die Verwaltungspraxis entwickelt.

Der Vorschlag der EBA enthält auch Vorgaben zu Auslagerungen an Drittstaaten-Servicedienstleister. Ein Anwendungsfall für solche Drittstaaten-Auslagerungen kann laut EBA etwa sein, dass ein Drittstaateninstitut, das Zugang zum europäischen Markt hat oder sucht, nicht seine gesamte Infrastruktur neu aufbauen muss, sondern bestehende, im Drittstaat bereits vorhandene Infrastruktur (etwa in der eigenen Gruppe) im Rahmen einer Auslagerung auch für die innereuropäische Einheit nutzen kann. Damit ist die Konsultation der EBA auch für den bevorstehenden Brexit relevant. Sofern UK im Fall eines harten Brexits zum Drittstaat würde und UK-Institute Geschäftsbereich in die EU verlagern, kann so in einem gewissen Rahmen auch vorhandene Infrastruktur grenzüberschreitend genutzt werden. Es ist nun ausdrücklich geregelt, was bislang bereits galt, nämlich dass Bankgeschäfte und Zahlungsdienste nur an Dienstleister in Drittstaaten ausgelagert werden dürfen, wenn diese in dem Drittstatt beaufsichtigt sind und es eine geregelte Zusammenarbeit zwischen der Drittstaatenaufsicht und der zuständigen Aufsichtsbehörde in dem jeweiligen EU-Staat gibt.

Insgesamt handelt es sich bei der Konsultation um einen weitgesteckten Rahmen, der die derzeitige deutsche Auslagerungspraxis nicht wesentlich verändern wird.

EBA emphasises again that Brexit planning should advance more rapidly

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.

Risiken für den Finanzmarkt durch Brexit – Die europäischen Aufsichtsbehörden legen Standard für die EU-27 fest

Am 12. April 2018 veröffentlichte die Europäische Bankenaufsichtsbehörde (EBA) den Joint Committee Report zu Risiken und Anfälligkeiten des europäischen Finanzsystems. Darin geht es auch um den Brexit. Der Report wurde von allen drei europäischen Aufsichtsbehörden, EBA, ESMA (Europäische Wertpapieraufsicht) und EIOPA (Europäische Versicherungsaufsicht) in einem gemeinsamen Komitee verfasst. Auch wenn politisch noch keine Einigung erzielt ist über den künftigen Zugang Großbritanniens zum europäischen Finanzmarkt und auch die Richtung noch nicht wirklich klar ist, zeigt der aktuelle Report deutlich auf, dass die europäischen Aufsichtsbehörden ihre Aufgabe, die Stabilität des europäischen Finanzmarktes zu gewährleisten, sehr ernst nehmen.

Die europäischen Aufseher mahnen und regen an, dass alle Institute der EU-27 sowie deren Vertragspartner, Privatkunden und Investoren sich rechtzeitig auf den Brexit vorbereiten und die Konsequenzen für die jeweiligen Geschäftsmodelle im Blick haben. Ein Ausscheiden Großbritanniens aus dem gemeinsamen Markt ohne ausreichende Vorbereitung der Finanzmarktteilnehmer sei allein aus Risikogesichtspunkten unbedingt zu vermeiden.

Zur besseren Planung und zur Gewährleistung von Rechtssicherheit haben alle drei europäischen Aufsichtsbehörden Richtlinien veröffentlicht, die zum einen den Aufsichtsstandard im Binnenmarkt aufrechterhalten sollen und zum anderen etwaige Fragen im Zusammenhang mit Standortwechseln für Institute beantworten. Auch die BaFin steht den Marktteilnehmern für Fragen zur Verfügung.

Die Richtlinie der EBA vom Oktober 2017 findet sich hier. Die ESMA hat sich hier einmal grundsätzlich geäußert und die EIOPA hat im Juli 2017 ihre Meinung hier veröffentlicht. Sektorspezifische Ausführungen veröffentlichte die ESMA im Juli 2017 zusätzlich für Finanzdienstleister, Fondsmanager und den Sekundärmarkt.