The Agency's international cooperation includes activities within associations of securities market regulators, such as the IOSCO (International Organization of Securities Commissions) and the European ESMA (European Securities and Markets Authority), as well as cooperation with individual similar and other organisations. The majority of its activities are focused on exchanging information on legal arrangements in specific areas of the securities market and responding to various questionnaires used in studies by working groups of the two associations and individual securities market regulators.
ESMA is an independent EU Authority that contributes to safeguarding the stability of the European Union's financial system by ensuring the integrity, transparency, efficiency and orderly functioning of securities markets, as well as enhancing investor protection. In particular, ESMA fosters supervisory convergence both amongst securities regulators, and across financial sectors by working closely with the other European Supervisory Authorities competent in the field of banking (EBA), and insurance and occupational pensions (EIOPA).
ESMA's work on securities legislation contributes to the development of a single rule book in Europe. This serves two purposes; firstly, it ensures the consistent treatment of investors across the Union, enabling an adequate level of protection of investors through effective regulation and supervision. Secondly, it promotes equal conditions of competition for financial service providers, as well as ensuring the effectiveness and cost efficiency of supervision for supervised companies. As part of its role in standard setting and reducing the scope of regulatory arbitrage, ESMA strengthens international supervisory co-operation. Where requested in European law, ESMA undertakes the supervision of certain entities with pan-European reach.
Finally, ESMA also contributes to the financial stability of the European Union, in the short, medium and long-term, through its contribution to the work of the European Systemic Risk Board, which identifies potential risks to the financial system and provides advice to diminish possible threats to the financial stability of the Union. ESMA is also responsible for coordinating actions of securities supervisors or adopting emergency measures when a crisis situation arises.
Whilst ESMA is independent, there is full accountability towards the European Parliament where it will appear before the relevant Committee known as ECON, at their request for formal hearings. Full accountability towards the Council of the European Union and European Commission also exists. The Authority will therefore report on its activities regularly at meetings but also through an Annual Report.
The new competences and powers of ESMA
• the ability to draft technical standards that are legally binding in EU Member States;
• the ability to launch a fast track procedure to ensure consistent application of EU law;
• new powers in resolving disagreements between national authorities;
• additional responsibilities for consumer protection (including the ability to prohibit financial products that threaten financial stability or the orderly functioning of financial markets for a pe-riod of three months);
• emergency powers;
• participating in Colleges of Supervisors and on-site inspections;
• monitoring systemic risk of cross border financial institutions;
• a new supervisory role (in particular for credit rating agencies);
• the ability to enter into administrative arrangements with supervisory authorities, international organisations and the administrations of third countries.
The governance of ESMA
ESMA will have a full-time Chair based at ESMA’s premises in Paris. This is a significant change as under CESR, the Chair was one of its Members and therefore based in his/her respective home country as they were in charge of one of the national supervisors. It is envisaged that the Chair will be a high-profile individual with an established reputation in their field. She/he will not be a representative of any Member State or an appointee of the European Commission.
The other top management role is of the Executive Director of ESMA. The Chair and the Executive Director of ESMA are expected to be in place by early spring 2011. They will both serve a five year term which may be extended once.
ESMA’s governance structure
There are principally two bodies in ESMA’s governance structure. This is the Board of Supervisors which brings together the head of the national competent authorities and the Management Board whose composition is described below.
The Board of Supervisors is composed of the heads of 27 national authorities (where there is more than one national authority in a Member State those authorities will agree which of their heads will represent them), with one observer from the European Commission, a representative of EBA and EIOPA and one representative of the ESRB. Once a formal agreement has been reached by the European Commission and the EFTA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), the heads of their competent authorities will also be invited to attend as permanent observers. Pending those agreements it is expected that Norway and Iceland will be invited to attend as observers in line with CESR’s former practice.
The Management Board is composed of six members (and an alternate for each) selected from the Board of Supervisors by the members of the Board of Supervisors themselves. There is also one representative from the Commission and the Executive Director attending as non-voting participants (except that the Commission will have a vote on budget matters). The Management Board is chaired by ESMA’s full-time Chair.
More information on the organisation and work of the ESMA is available on the website: http://www.esma.europa.eu/
IOSCO is an international association of securities market regulators established in 1983 with its headquarters in Madrid.
The organisation members’ basic goals are:
to work together to consolidate high standards of regulation in order to maintain fair, efficient and lawful securities markets;
to exchange information on individual regulators’ experience in order to promote the development of domestic markets;
to harmonise the members’ operations with the aim of implementing standards and efficient supervision of international securities transactions;
to provide access to mutual assistance for the consolidation of integrity of the markets by consistent implementation of standards and efficient actions in cases of violation.
The Agency has been a full member of the organisation since 1996, and is also a member of two committees within the IOSCO: the European Regional Committee and the Emerging Markets Committee. The exchange of information between the members of IOSCO is based on the provisions of the IOSCO Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding. The most important instrument for improving and developing communication between the members, reducing global systemic risks and protecting investors by assurance of efficient and transparent securities markets are the IOSCO Principles (Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation). IOSCO also provides technical assistance to its members, especially those from countries with developing securities markets.
Further information is available at the website: www.iosco.org