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European Parliament adopts regulation to shed light on shady derivatives markets

29.03.2012: New rules take crucial steps to tackle food speculation


Joint NGO media reaction by Oxfam; Friends of the Earth Europe; Greenpeace International; World Economy, Ecology & Development - WEED; World Development Movement

Today the European Parliament gave the green light to the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) designed to regulate shady ‘over the counter’ (OTC) derivatives. NGOs welcomed the introduction of clearing and reporting obligations for these financial products as a crucial step towards regulating vital agricultural commodity derivatives markets. The next key step will be to introduce mandatory position limits in the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) currently under discussion in the Parliament and among EU member states.

Marc Olivier Herman, Oxfam’s EU policy advisor, said:

"We welcome today’s decision to bring risky OTC derivative markets out of the dark and into the sight and control of regulators. If properly put in place, the new rules will shed light on an opaque trillion euro market and make effective monitoring and regulation of agricultural commodity derivatives markets possible. This is good news for poor people in developing countries who are hard hit by food price spikes on global food markets.”

Markus Henn, from World Economy, Ecology & Development - WEED, said:

"The adoption of EMIR is good news, but now Europe must stick to its guns. The rules adopted must give regulators full oversight of the derivatives market and apply to anyone who trades in these financial products. We urge the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the European Commission to make sure that the implentation of EMIR is not delayed or watered down by opposition from powerful vested interests in the finance sector."

Christine Haigh, World Development Movement’s Food and finance campaigner, said:

"EMIR is an important foundation, but we now need the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive to build on it and introduce mandatory position limits to reign in speculation on food and other commodities. EU Member States must resist UK-led attempts to avoid position limits with position management as this would fail to deliver properly functioning markets.” Notes to Editors

The European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) was tabled by the European Commission in September 2010. Following the adoption of a report on EMIR in the EP in July 2011 and of a "general approach” by the Council (EU member states) in October 2011, the EP and EU member states entered into negotiations and reached an agreement on a final text in February 2012. After today’s plenary vote in the EP, EMIR remains be formally adopted by the Council.

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, G20 leaders agreed in Pittsburgh in 2009 that standardized OTC derivative contracts should be exchange traded and centrally cleared by the end of 2012. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has already started drafting the rules needed to implement EMIR in order to meet this deadline.