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IP/05/123

Brussels, 1st February 2005

Financial services: Commission sets up expert group on legal certainty issues in clearing and settlement

The European Commission’s EU Clearing and Settlement: Legal Certainty Group has held its first meeting in Brussels on 31st January. The Group will analyse issues of legal uncertainty relating to the integration of EU securities clearing and settlement systems, and advise the Commission accordingly. The Group is chaired by the Commission. It is composed of around 30 legal experts drawn from academia, the public and the private sectors, whose membership is personal, and not representative. A driving force in the composition of the group has been the desire to capture expertise, and thus to identify the membership without regard to affiliation.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said “[Legal issues have been identified as one of the fundamental barriers to making cross-border clearing and settlement as efficient, safe and cost-effective as it is at national level. The establishment of this Legal Certainty Group will help to identify how to overcome this kind of barrier, and thus will contribute to the opening up of the EU clearing and settlement environment.”

The integration of European securities clearing and settlement systems requires coordinated action by private and public sector bodies. Removal of legal barriers implies a public sector action, and the Legal Certainty Group is a key step to achieving this.

The group, chaired by the Commission, will address legal issues that have often been cited as barriers to integration, and which were identified in two previous reports by Dr Alberto Giovannini.

See: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/giovannini/clearing_settlement_en.htm

The group will undertake in-depth legal analysis of the issues raised, and propose solutions to such problems of legal uncertainty as have been confirmed by the analysis.

The Group will ensure wide dissemination of all necessary information on the progress of its work, will liaise widely, including with international bodies also engaged in this area (G30, UNIDROIT etc), in particular to avoid duplication of effort, and will contribute to building awareness of the importance of the project for the success of the EU’s financial markets and for attaining the overall economic objectives incorporated in the Lisbon agenda.

Background

The advent of the Legal Certainty Group follows the publication in April 2004 of the Commission’s consultative Communication on securities clearing and settlement (IP/04/551). The Communication includes an action plan outlining the various initiatives necessary to achieve an integrated, safe and efficient clearing and settlement environment for securities trading in the EU, based on a level playing field for the different providers of services. One such initiative is the creation of this Legal Certainty Group.


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