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Market abuse

This Directive is intended to guarantee the integrity of European financial markets and increase investor confidence. The objective is to create a level playing field for all economic operators in the Member States as part of the effort to combat market abuse.

ACT

Directive 2003/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on insider dealing and market manipulation (market abuse) [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

This Directive aims at preventing market abuse in order to preserve the smooth functioning of European Union financial markets.

This Directive does not apply to transactions relating to:

  • monetary policy, exchange rates or public debt management by a Member State;
  • the European System of Central Banks;
  • national central banks.

Conditions for the prohibition of market abuse

Market abuse may arise in circumstances where investors have been unreasonably disadvantaged, directly or indirectly, by others who:

  • have used information which is not publicly available (insider dealing);
  • have distorted the price-setting mechanism of financial instruments;
  • have disseminated false or misleading information.

This type of conduct can undermine the general principle that all investors must be placed on an equal footing.

The Member States therefore prohibit any person possessing information from:

  • disclosing privileged information to any other person outside the scope of the exercise of their employment;
  • recommending any other person to acquire or dispose of financial instruments to which that information relates;
  • engaging in market manipulation.

These prohibitions do not apply either to trading in own shares in “buy-back” programmes or to the stabilisation of a financial instrument.

Managing information from the issuers of financial instruments

The issuers of financial instruments must publish information which concerns the said issuers as soon as possible and post it on their website. If an issuer discloses privileged information to a third party in the exercise of his duties, he must make public disclosure of that information.

Issuers must also draw up a list of persons in their employment who have access to privileged information.

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) may draft technical norms for implementation aimed at ensuring that acts adopted by the Commission are applied under uniform conditions.

Cooperation

The Directive requires each Member State to designate a single regulatory and supervisory authority with a common minimum set of responsibilities. These authorities use convergent methods to combat market abuse and should be able to assist each other in taking action against infringements, particularly in cross-border cases. The administrative cooperation procedure followed could in particular help to combat terrorist acts. The competent authorities are to collaborate with the ESMA.

Penalties

The same form of wrongful conduct shall incur the same penalty in each of the Member States.

If a competent authority adopts an administrative measure or penalty, it must inform the ESMA. If said penalty concerns an investment firm authorised pursuant to the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFiD), the ESMA shall add a reference to that penalty in the register of investment firms.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2003/6/EC

12.4.2003

12.10.2004

OJ L 96, 12.4.2003

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2008/26/EC

21.3.2008

-

OJ L 81, 20.3.2008

Directive 2010/78/EU

4.1.2011

31.12.2011

OJ L 331, 15.12.2010

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2003/6/CE have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purpose only.

RELATED ACTS

Directive 2008/26/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2008 amending Directive 2003/6/EC on insider dealing and market manipulation (market abuse), as regards the implementing powers conferred on the Commission [Official Journal L 81 of 20.3.2008].

Commission Directive 2004/72/EC of 29 April 2004 implementing Directive 2003/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards accepted market practices, the definition of inside information in relation to derivatives on commodities, the drawing up of lists of insiders, the notification of managers' transactions and the notification of suspicious transactions [Official Journal L 162, 30.04.2004].
This Directive defines the criteria to be taken into account when evaluating market practices for the purpose of implementing Article 6(10) of Directive 2003/6/EC. The practices of market participants must comply with the principles of fairness and efficiency in order to protect the integrity of the market. These practices must not compromise the integrity of other European Union markets that are linked to it.

Commission Directive 2003/124/EC of 22 December 2003 implementing Directive 2003/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the definition and public disclosure of inside information and the definition of market manipulation [Official Journal L 339, 24.12.2003].
This Directive fixes the detailed criteria for determining information that must be deemed to be of a precise nature and likely to have a significant effect on prices. In addition, it specifies a series of factors that are to be taken into consideration in determining whether specific behaviour constitutes market manipulation. Regarding issuers, it lays down the means and time-limits for public disclosure of inside information and the precise circumstance in which they are authorised to delay such public disclosure in order to protect their legitimate interests.

Commission Directive 2003/125/EC of 22 December 2003 implementing Directive 2003/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the fair presentation of investment recommendations and the disclosure of conflicts of interest [Official Journal L 339, 24.12.2003].
This Directive fixes the rules for the fair presentation of investment recommendations and the disclosure of conflicts of interest. It draws a distinction between persons producing investment recommendations (who must meet stricter standards) and those disseminating recommendations made by third parties. Under Article 6 of the Directive on market abuse, this second implementing Directive must take into account the rules, including self-regulation, governing the profession of journalist. This means that the highly specialised subcategory of financial journalists who produce or disseminate investment recommendations must respect certain general principles. Nevertheless, protective measures are provided for and the use of self-regulatory mechanisms is authorised in order to determine how those basic principles must be applied. The aim of this arrangement is to preserve the freedom of the press while protecting investors and issuers against any risk of market manipulation by journalists.

Last updated: 01.04.2011
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