White Paper No. 53

A New Governance Architecture for European Financial Markets? Towards a European Supervision of CCPs

Does the new European outlook on financial markets, as voiced by the EU Commission since the beginning of the Capital Market Unions imply a movement of the EU towards an alignment of market integration and direct supervision of common rules? This paper sets out to answer this question for the case of common supervision for Central Counterparties (CCPs) in the European Union. Those entities gained crucial importance post-crisis due to new regulation which requires the mandatory clearing of standardized derivative contracts, transforming clearing houses into central nodes for cross-border financial transactions. While the EU-wide regulatory framework EMIR, enacted in 2012, stipulates common regulatory requirements, the framework still relies on home-country supervision of those rules, arguably leading to regulatory as well as supervisory arbitrage. Therefore, the regulatory reform to stabilize the OTC derivatives market replicated at its center a governance flaw, which had been identified as one of the major causes for the gravity of the financial crisis in the EU: the coupling of intense competition based on private risk management systems with a national supervision of European rules. This paper traces the history of this problem awareness and inquires which factors account for the fact that only in 2017 serious negotiations at the EU level ensued that envisioned a common supervision of CCPs to fix the flawed system of governance. Analyzing this shift in the European governance architecture, we argue that Brexit has opened a window of opportunity for a centralization of supervision for CCPs. Brexit aligns the urgency of the problem with material interests of crucial political stakeholder, in particular of Germany and France, providing the possibility for a grand European bargain.