UK wary on EU plan for derivatives

City A.M. Reporter
BRITAIN gave only a partial thumbs-up yesterday to a draft European Union law aimed at cracking down on the opaque $600 trillion derivatives sector, warning against rushing to push all trading onto exchanges.

The draft law was unveiled last week and implements pledges the bloc made on the Group of 20 leading nations level to standardise contracts where possible so trades can be centrally cleared and reported by the end of 2012.

The G20 would like transactions to be made via exchanges where appropriate. “The UK welcomes much of the (European) Commission’s proposal,” Jonathan Taylor, managing director for financial services and stability at the Treasury said yesterday.

He backed the G20 goals for derivatives but said some flexibility would be needed in dealing with an obligation to centrally clear transactions.

“We are also aware that forcing derivatives onto exchanges is not always appropriate and could, for example damage liquidity,” Taylor told a meeting of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association.

“So we need to think through what the policy options are for achieving these policy ambitions for standardisation without risking these downsides,” Taylor added.

The law needs approval from the bloc’s governments and European Parliament to take effect, and changes are likely.

It makes no mention of exchange trading but this will be addressed in a separate review of EU trading rules now under way. The United States has already approved a reform of Wall Street that will require exchange trading of some contracts.