On February 2, 2016, ESMA published a document comprising a set of Opinions on certain UK pension schemes that are to be exempt from centrally clearing OTC derivatives contracts under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation. The Opinions have been requested by the UK’s FCA and relate to 16 different kinds of pension schemes. Transitional exemptions from the clearing obligation can be granted to pension scheme arrangements that meet certain criteria, essentially, when OTC derivatives contracts are entered into and are used for hedging purposes. To obtain an exemption, requests must be made by the pension scheme to a national regulator. Under EMIR, the national regulator must seek an Opinion from ESMA before making a final exemption decision. ESMA, in turn, must consult with the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority before issuing its Opinion. The FCA has now granted exemptions and ESMA will publish the list of the types of entities that have been given exemptions in the near future. This follows on from the transitional exemption period for pension funds from the clearing obligation having been extended to August 16, 2017. Pension funds must comply with the EU clearing obligation by this date under EMIR.

ESMA’s press release and set of Opinions are available at: https://www.esma.europa.eu/press-news/esma-news/esmaissues-opinions-uk-pension-schemes-be-exempt-central-clearing-under-emir