April 27, 2018 / 1:51 PM / 23 days ago

UK, EU banking regulators team up in case of cliff-edge Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England and European Central Bank will create a task force to keep markets orderly in the event of a “cliff edge” Brexit next March.

FILE PHOTO: A bus passes the Bank of England in London, Britain, April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

The European Commission and Britain’s finance ministry said they had asked the two central banks to convene a working group on “risk management in the period around 30 March 2019 in the area of financial services”.

The two central banks are the main banking supervisors in Britain and the euro zone.

“The European Commission and (Britain’s) HM Treasury will attend as observers and other relevant authorities will be invited on an issue-specific basis,” they added.

“The primary responsibility to prepare for Brexit remains with market participants.”

The work will be separate from negotiations between Britain and the bloc over their divorce settlement, and on the future shape of trading relations.

Britain and the EU have agreed on a “standstill” transition deal from Brexit Day to the end of 2020 but it won’t be ratified until October or later.

It could be derailed by failure to agree on other issues like border relations between Britain and Ireland, leaving banks facing a “hard” Brexit next March.

FILE PHOTO: Central Bank Governors Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank (ECB) and Mark Carney of the Bank of England attend ECB's Central Bank Communications Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

“It’s vital that regulators come together to address cliff edge risks,” said Simon Lewis, chief executive of pan-European banking lobby AFME.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority wants to start working with its EU counterparts immediately on making sure that trillions of pounds in cross-border derivatives can still be cleared and enforced after March.

But EU regulators say banks should push ahead with licensing new EU hubs in case no transition deal is ratified.

Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, which promotes Britain as a financial centre, said not all challenges thrown up by Brexit can be solved by the financial sector, Britain or the EU in isolation.

“This move should further reassure customers and clients that the authorities on both sides are committed to providing greater legal certainty and ensuring a smooth and orderly Brexit,” Celic said.

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The Association of British Insurers welcomed the “pragmatic step” by the central banks to provide legal certainty on key areas facing customers and insurers.

The news comes after the EU’s financial services chief Valdis Dombrovskis met with British finance minister Philip Hammond and Bank of England governor Mark Carney this week.

Dombrovskis also told London’s City financial district it was unlikely to get generous EU financial market access after 2020.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter

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