Commission publishes first EU anti-corruption report: The Commission has published its first EU anti-corruption report. The report looks at each Member State's laws and practices, analysing how well they work and what improvements might help. The report concludes that all Member States should pay more attention to corruption, and that there is significant variation between countries on the nature and level of corruption and the measures governments take to fight it. The report identifies several common trends:

  • large differences in prevention mechanisms such as preventive policies, addressing conflicts of interests and sanctions for non-compliance with rules;
  • significant variation in law enforcement and prosecution although criminal laws are generally in place;
  • weaknesses in laws addressing political accountability and financing of political parties; and
  • key risk areas, often centred on regional and local levels and frequently in the urban development, construction and health care sectors.

The report also calls for stronger integrity standards in public procurement. It also contains statistics on the perceived levels of corruption within Member States, and notes that 75% of companies believe corruption is widespread in their country. The UK's efforts to reduce corruption are recognised, showing the best result in Europe in terms of percentage of people who would expect to pay a bribe (only 1%), but 64% of the UK respondents said corruption was widespread in the country (against an EU average of 74% but with only the Nordic nations reporting lower figures). The highest concerns are generally in the Mediterranean countries and the more recent accessions. The Commission says it will use the report to help Member States share experiences, identify best practices and overcome current shortcomings in policies. It will report again in two years' time. (Source: Commission Publishes First EU Anti-Corruption Report)

Commission urges quick SEPA action: Michel Barnier is pleased the EP has allowed a transitional period until 1 August so that non-SEPA payments can still be accepted in the Eurozone. However, he stressed the formal migration deadline was still 1 February and that there will be no further extension to the transitional period. (Source: Commission Urges Quick SEPA Action)

Commission welcomes CSMAD: The Commission has welcomed EP's approval of CSMAD and said it now expects publication in the Official Journal in June. It confirmed the new framework that CSMAD and the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) will create, which will:

  • extend the scope of market abuse prevention to include all financial instruments which are traded on organised platforms and OTC;
  • adapt rules to new technology;
  • strengthen prevention of market abuse across commodity and related derivative markets;
  • explicitly ban the manipulation of benchmarks;
  • reinforce the cooperation between financial and commodity regulators; and
  • make sanctions for breach tougher and more harmonised.

(Source: Commission Welcomes CSMAD)

Commission outlines 2014 plans: Key documents the Commission plans for 2014 include:

  • an assessment of the potential technical solutions for the transfer by pension scheme arrangements to central counterparties (CCPs) of non-cash collateral as variation margins in Q1;
  • also in Q1, Regulatory Technical Standards on instruments for variable remuneration under the capital requirements regime;
  • also in Q1, delegated legislation on fines and penalties for trade repositories;
  • also in Q1, equivalence assessments for the purposes of the Credit Rating Agencies (CRA) Regulation;
  • in Q2, level 2 legislation on Solvency II; and
  • in Q4, legislation on resolution of non-bank financial institutions.

Additionally, the Commission's DG Internal Market and Services (DG Markt) has published its Management Plan 2014. In the chapter on financial services and capital markets it announces that the Commission does not expect to adopt until the second semester of this year the technical standards on margin for non-centrally cleared derivatives and on the clearing obligation. Apart from consolidating the new system of prudential and markets regulation, during 2014 the Commission will also be publishing communications on long-term financing and crowdfunding. (Source: Commission Outlines 2014 Plansand DG Markt Management Plan 2014)

EU and US commit to convergence with international standards: The EU-US Financial Markets Regulatory Dialogue has agreed, in the field of regulation of OTC derivatives, to intensify discussions on the equivalence of their respective regulatory regimes and to minimise divergences from international standards when laying down the margin requirements for non-centrally cleared OTC derivatives. (Source: EU-US Financial Markets Regulatory Dialogue)