Yesterday, after months of discussions in the Council of the European Union, reports indicate that EU Member State Ambassadors (COREPER II) are nearing a General Approach on the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (MiFIR). Recently, the discussions have been stalled over two issues: 1) access, with Germany and other Member States opposed to non-discriminatory access rules; and the UK advocating for more open access; and, 2) transparency, with the UK advocating for more proportionate transparency requirements, and Germany and France calling for more.
In recent weeks, the Irish Presidency has been working with Member States to address concerns on all issues, releasing numerous compromise drafts. Reports indicate that the Irish Presidency’s texts were a major step towards a compromise as they were more successful than previous drafts at addressing the concerns of Germany and the UK. Although the concerns of two large Member States have been the primary focus over the past few weeks, smaller Member States have also been working to have some of their concerns addressed. It is notable that the Commission is not entirely satisfied with the current Council agreed position; most notably on the number of waivers associated with transparency, as well as aspects of the access provisions.
Reports indicate that the discussions in this week’s COREPER II meeting were productive and that subsequent changes from the Irish Presidency satisfied many Member States. These changes include:
- Refining amendments to the sanctions regime;
- Refining the Organized Trading Facility (OTF) regime by making it available for all instruments;
- Modifying, at Sweden’s request, bond markets transparency; and,
- Adding, at Czech Republic’s request, a proposal in on government bonds.
Given that the agreement would likely be a General Approach, Member States are supportive of most of the issues and understand that there are a number of others that need to be ironed out in trialogues with the European Commission and European Parliament.
Moving forward, the COREPER President has insisted the texts must pass again through the next COREPER meeting on June 17 as an “A” item (i.e., a vote with no discussion); so far, the Presidency has not required the dossier to pass through the EU Finance Ministers (ECOFIN). With the Irish Presidency nearing its end, the Lithuanians will assume the Presidency of the Council of the EU on July 1, and MiFID/MiFIR is not expected to be a primary concern of their Presidency.