In a speech before the European Commission last week, the new financial services and markets commissioner said he will not attempt to unwind the numerous reforms implemented since the financial collapse, but cautioned that any new regulations should be examined for their impact on jobs and growth.
Jonathan Hill, installed this month as commissioner in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services, and Capital Markets Union, noted that President Jean-Claude Juncker placed jobs and growth at the top of his agenda, and vowed to follow suit by “looking at everything I do through the prism of jobs and growth.”
Hill said good regulation is crucial for financial stability, but so is growth, and advocated lawmakers examine whether they have struck the right balance between reducing risk and encouraging growth. However, he acknowledged there are a host of measures he will need to introduce to abide by legislation already approved by the EU or agreed to by international bodies.
“I am not here today to say there will be a big bonfire of existing regulations in the name of growth,” Hill said in his speech. “There can be no going back to the old, pre-crisis ways. And equally, if we find wrongdoing in the financial services sector, whether it is manipulating the market, or pulling the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting customers, the system should come down on perpetrators like a ton of bricks. But we should not need the volume of new legislation which the crisis called forth.”
Hill said it is “common sense” for lawmakers to examine the impact after five years of legislating in crisis mode. While specific directives may have provisions for impact reviews built into the law, the EU should also review the cumulative impact of all of the new financial rules, Hill said. Companies also need assurances of regulatory stability in order to focus properly on their business, he added.
“We should not want board meetings to be spent just looking at compliance tables. But, by the way, accepting responsibility for high standards is not in my view the same as mere compliance. It’s the culture of a business that is most important, not a box-ticking mentality,” Hill said.
Hill outlined for the commission what his top priorities are for his new post. His first priority will be to implement changes that have already been agreed upon, which he called “no small feat” considering the more than 400 delegated and implementing acts needed to flesh out reforms like the banking union’s resolution arm, the directive on markets in financial instruments (MiFID 2), and the capital requirements directive (CRD IV).
Hill said he also wants to continue work on the financial sector’s framework, including rules regarding money market funds and benchmarks. He cited the goal of strengthening regulatory cooperation with the United States and continuing to work with G20 countries on international standards.
Hill told the commission he will have an action plan by the summer for the proposed capital markets union, aimed at creating an integrated single market for capital. “My ambition is clear: to help unlock the capital around Europe that is currently frozen and put it to work in support of Europe’s businesses, particularly SMEs,” Hill said. He cited the need for more options to help businesses expand, including growth markets, angel investors, and crowdfunding. Existing capital markets are too compartmentalized among Member States, he said.
EU lawmakers can take some immediate steps to resolve some of the obstacles standing in the way of a capital markets union, Hill said. He called on co-legislators to adopt the proposal on European Long Term Investment Funds before the year’s end. He backed the development of an EU-wide framework for high quality securitization, examine laws concerning covered bonds, and compare private placement markets from different corners of the world. Lawmakers also need to devise a way to provide greater access to SME credit information and develop more market finance instruments.