EU watchdog to clarify share trading after full Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union’s securities watchdog said it expects to make a statement soon on where shares listed in the bloc must be traded after Britain’s full departure from the European Union in December.

FILE PHOTO: Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) Steven Maijoor attends the Euronext stock exchange's annual conference in Paris, France, January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

It was important for market participants to have clarity on where they can trade shares, Steven Maijoor, chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), told the European Parliament.

Britain left the bloc last January but still has full access to the single market until Dec. 31 under transition arrangements.

Brussels is assessing whether to grant “equivalence,” or continued full access for UK share trading platforms, to EU investors or cut off the City of London.

Without equivalence, EU investors would trade EU shares inside the bloc under its share trading obligation (STO) rule.

EU states are divided over whether to make the STO more flexible given that investment funds in the bloc are heavy users of deep liquidity in London trading platforms.

“Ultimately, you would prefer to have equivalence here, but clearly I fully understand that is difficult for the Commission as that would also require clarity on how in this area the UK would like to change its laws and regulations,” Maijoor said.

Brussels wants Britain to say if it will diverge from current trading rules inherited from the bloc and thereby no longer be equivalent to maintain access.

“We are discussing this internally ... in close coordination with the European Commission,” Maijoor said.

ESMA’s previous statement on the STO and other announcements on EU securities rules would serve as an “anchor,” Maijoor said.

The London Stock Exchange said on Monday it would offer trading in EU-listed shares on its new Amsterdam hub from the end of November if there is no equivalence decision by then to allow continued trading in London.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Toby Chopra and Steve Orlofsky