Yet another Brussels go-slow on IORP II legislative revisions? Yes, but it’s not just rules for occupational pensions. A let’s-put-off-until-tomorrow syndrome is hammering swathes of financial legislation and the Brussels machine is now close to deadlock.
A six-page resolution from a European Parliament committee, heaps blame on the European Commission and, more seriously, the Council of the EU.
Other stalemate matters included in the resolution, are the Market Abuses Directive (MAD/MAR), Insurance Mediation (IMD II), rules concerning payment services, rules on deposit guarantee schemes (DGS), on shadow banking, and on CRD IV.
Another victim of the general impasse is UCITS V, which was not even on the agenda for discussion. A Lithuanian presidency official said the issue could be considered “in the coming weeks”.
The resolution was proposed by the Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) and adopted in plenary in June by 483 votes to 27, with 65 abstentions.
On MiFID, the resolution notes that Parliament has been waiting since October 2012 to start negotiations with the Council for first-reading agreements.
In fact the Council sat on its hands until shortly after the nudge by the Parliament, when the representatives of the finance ministries of the (then) 27 member states did manage to agree on a negotiation position.
This is not, by any means, the end of the matter. It simply means that the talking could restart in trialogue – three-way meetings involving the Council the Parliament and the Commission.
Various other criticisms were aired in a review meeting on the resolution. “Here in Parliament we seem to have to battle time-eaters in the Council,” Sharon Bowles MEP, ECON chair, remarked.
Still tougher wording came from Green Party MEP Sven Giegold, who deplores that the Lithuanian Presidency is demanding help from Parliament in “prioritising”.
This means that important issues of consumer protection would fall off the ever-lengthening legislative pipeline. He demands that the Council stop listening to banking lobbies and get down to voting.
Kay Swinburne, a British Conservative MEP, noted that incomplete legislation “will deter companies, individuals and global companies “from activity with the EU”.
Repeated attempts by IPE to obtain an explanation for the delays from the first full-time president of the Council, Herman van Rompuy, failed.
As for Michel Barnier, the Commissioner with responsibility for financial services, he makes clear that prodigious volumes of legislation have emerged from the Commission during his mandate.
It seems Barnier is in a different world to that of the Parliament and Council. His office provided a leaflet in which he writes that the legislative programme is “well on track [towards completion] in 2013”. He also “especially” thanks the Council of Ministers for its co-operation. This statement could be politically motivated.
Faced with all the general criticism, an evidently embarrassed Council official resorted to a statement saying the Commission and the Council are working “to achieve the best possible results”.
According to a bystander, the presidency of Lithuania may lack necessary resources for progress. Invited to comment, the Lithuanian official stated, justifiably, that that the scope and speed of the legislative process depend on all member states, rather than on the presidency alone.
The official did not indicate whether there would be much faster movement under the Greek presidency, starting on 1 January 2014.
Eric de Nexon, head of strategy for market infrastructures at Société Générale Securities Services, which has €3.5trn under custody, refers to the extreme complexity of the issues. Notably, he also cites lack of co-ordination between the European teams in charge of the initiatives, and also between regulators at a global level.