a1 London School of Economics and Political Science
Since the outset of the financial crisis, the EU financial markets regime has been undergoing a period of turbulence which contrasts sharply with the period of relative stability which it briefly enjoyed over 2005–2007 and post-FSAP (Financial Services Action Plan). The FSAP reforms had been adopted. The Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR) had emerged as an influential actor, driving some degree of supervisory coordination and co-operation and constructing a significant soft law ‘rule-book.’ And the 2007 Lamfalussy Review suggested broad political, institutional and stakeholder satisfaction with the Lamfalussy process. There was little enthusiasm for grand adventures in institutional design, albeit that supervision, an institutionally-driven concern, was presciently if belatedly emerging as a concern of the EU institutions. The Review's main concern, however, was with strengthening the pragmatic, if somewhat haphazard, network-based, ‘supervisory convergence’ model as the means for supervising the integrating EU financial market. With respect to regulation, reflecting the wider international zeitgeist pre-crisis, ‘Better Regulation’ and the need for a ‘regulatory pause’ were the watchwords of a Commission which, once the massive FSAP regime was safely in place, espoused the benefits of self-regulation and highlighted the risks of intervention without impact assessment, extensive consultation and evidence of market failure. This was most apparent with respect to credit rating agencies, debt market transparency, hedge funds, and clearing and settlement. Institutionally, a relatively sophisticated law-making apparatus, in the form of the Lamfalussy structures, a plethora of advisory bodies and stakeholder bodies (notably FIN-NET which represents the consumer and SME interest), had been established.
(Online publication May 12 2011)