EU lawmakers fail to get deal on financial market rules overhaul

December 19, 2013 12:55 AM
Talks broke down over commodity rules

European Parliament lawmakers and national officials failed to clinch a deal to overhaul the bloc’s financial market rulebook, relinquishing their goal of finding an accord by year-end.

Negotiations broke down in Brussels yesterday over the scope of planned curbs on commodity derivative speculation and on investor protection rules, Sven Giegold, a German lawmaker representing the assembly’s Green group in the talks, said in a telephone interview. Discussions will resume on Jan. 14 in Strasbourg, France, he said.

“We are almost there. With a little bit more work on the 14th we hope a deal can be reached,” Chantal Hughes, a spokeswoman for Michel Barnier, the EU’s financial services chief, said by telephone. “Curbing commodity derivative speculation has been a priority” for Barnier throughout his mandate, she said.

The EU’s bid to updated its market legislation is the centerpiece of the bloc’s efforts to implement agreements reached by the Group of 20 nations in the wake of the financial crisis that toppled Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Barnier has said the updated rules are needed to rein in “speculative trading activities” and to “improve the structure of the market.”

Barnier’s proposals, published in 2011, must be negotiated and approved by national governments and by the European parliament before they can take effect.

Negotiators clashed over the details of a plan to set position limits capping individual traders activity on the commodity derivatives markets, Giegold says. The spat centered on the range of contracts that should be covered by the curbs.

The deal updates existing EU legislation from 2004 known as the Markets in Financial Instruments, or Mifid. While that legislation focused mainly on the equities markets, and measures to break down monopolies enjoyed by national exchanges, the proposed overhaul is far broader, including sweeping measures for derivatives and fixed income markets.

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