Commission in clearing and settlement talks with top bankers

Commission in clearing and settlement talks with top bankers

EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy and EC adviser Alberto Giovannini have met with CEO-level representatives of leading investment banks to discuss possible ways to dismantle barriers to cross-border clearing and settlement.

The meeting, which took place in Brussels yesterday, focused on the causes of excessive cross-border cost for post-trading services and possible future initiatives to decrease this cost to domestic levels.

Earlier this week, McCreevey was urged by a collective of investment banking lobby groups to take action to break-up the integrated silos for trade execution and clearing and settlement developed by some of the region's leading bourses. Such action would remove "competitive distortions" and pave the way for the emergence of a "single and dominant pan-European infrastructures both for clearing and settlement", they argue.

After yesterday's meeting - which included board-level representatives from 24 major European and US banks - McCreevy announced that the Commission would decide in the second quarter of 2006 on measures to tackle the persistent barriers in this area.

"It is widely acknowledged that cross-border post-trading arrangements in the EU are complex and fragmented resulting in higher risks, inefficiencies and higher costs which are spread through the chain of intermediation," he says. "This obviously puts cross-border investments at a disadvantage compared to domestic investments. This situation needs to be addressed: private and public sector bodies must act to trigger change."

McCreevy adds that he was "positively impressed by users’ convergence on the objectives to be pursued and by their determination and support for resolving the present difficulties".

Presently, the Commission is studying the economic case for action while finalising a regulatory impact assessment. It will then decide whether European legislation is necessary.

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