Brussels, 12 November 2008
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "I want Europe to adopt a leading role in this area. Our proposal goes further than the rules which apply in other jurisdictions. These very exacting rules are necessary to restore the confidence of the market in the ratings business in the European Union "
The proposal lays down conditions for the issuance of credit ratings which are needed to restore market confidence and increase investor protection. It introduces a registration procedure for credit rating agencies to enable European supervisors to control the activities of rating agencies whose ratings are used by credit institutions, investment firms, insurance, assurance and reinsurance undertakings, collective investment schemes and pension funds within the Community.
Credit rating agencies will have to comply with rigorous rules to make sure (i) that ratings are not affected by conflicts of interest, (ii) that credit rating agencies remain vigilant on the quality of the rating methodology and the ratings and (iii) that credit rating agencies act in a transparent manner. The proposal also includes an effective surveillance regime whereby European regulators will supervise credit rating agencies.
New rules include the following:
Some of the proposed rules are based on the
standards set in the International Organisation of Securities Commissions
(IOSCO) code. The proposal gives those rules a legally binding character. Also,
in those cases where the IOSCO standards are not sufficient to restore market
confidence and ensure investor protection the Commission has proposed stricter
The Commission started work to propose legislation in this area in the summer of 2007 when there were first indications of malpractice in the ratings business. This proposal is the outcome a thorough and comprehensive impact assessment as well as extensive consultations. Important input has been given by the Committee of European Securities Regulators and the European Securities Markets Expert Group, Member States, the ECB, major credit rating agencies and other stakeholders (industry associations from the insurance, securities and banking sectors, information providers, etc.).
In October 2007 EU Finance Ministers agreed to a set of conclusions on the crisis (the ‘Ecofin Roadmap’) which included a proposal to assess the role played by credit rating agencies and to address any relevant deficiencies. The EU Council of 20 June and 16 October 2008 called for a legislative proposal to strengthen the rules on credit rating agencies and their supervision at EU level, considering it a priority to restore confidence and proper functioning of the financial sector.
The proposal is available at: