U.K. Urges EU Parliament Rethink on Derivatives Benchmark Plan

U.K. Treasury Minister Greg Clark urged European lawmakers to rethink a decision to vote down proposals to compile reference-point interest rates for derivatives.

European Parliament legislators voted last week to oppose so-called interoperability arrangements between clearing firms and vetoed plans from Michel Barnier, the European Union’s financial services chief, to boost access to information used to compile market benchmark rates.

“This was both a pro-stability move and would have strengthened their transparency and governance for the future,” Clark said in a speech in Brussels today, according to remarks released by his office. “I would urge the European Parliament to reflect again whether it is sensible to delete these provisions. They are important to the single market and all the economic benefits this represents.”

The European Parliament gave only limited support last week to an attempt by Barnier to boost competition in clearing of derivatives. While exchanges should, as a rule, be required to supply their trade data to rival clearinghouses, lawmakers voted that these requests would have to be assessed for any risk they may pose to financial stability.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne won assurances from Barnier last year that the draft Markets in Financial Instruments Directive rules would contain strong competition-boosting provisions.

Clark said that he welcomed proposed bank-structure rules published yesterday by an EU working group. The measures, which include forcing banks to push risky trading activities into separately capitalized units, echo U.K. plans, he said.

The so-called Liikanen report “has opened the door to similar far-reaching reforms across Europe,” he said.

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