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EU’s politicised decision-making on third country equivalence rules for financial services set to hit Switzerland first


17 Sep 2018


Euro & Finance
Press statement

Switzerland, not the UK, is on course to become the first in line to deal with the EU’s approach to equivalence for non-EU financial services firms, according to the Swiss Exchange, the home market for Swiss shares.

Welcoming the European Parliament’s approval last week of a report on increasing the transparency of decisions around the equivalence of EU/third country rules, the Chairman of SIX, Dr. Romeo Lacher, said: “Brian Hayes’ report calls for transparent, coherent and consistently applied procedures that provide more predictability and clarity so that financial market participants can properly manage risks. We would have welcomed this approach from the Commission in the Swiss case.”

The European Commission made a decision in December 2017 to grant equivalence to Swiss share trading venues. Despite its assessment that both legal and supervisory frameworks in Switzerland are equivalent to that of the EU as laid down in MiFIR, the Commission’s decision was limited to one year only – a choice that is commonly recognised as an approach to gain leverage on a separate, much bigger political discussion. The fact remains that the decision on Switzerland will soon expire. Negotiations on reaching a new decision are moving slowly.

In its engagement with the European Commission SIX has been calling for the new equivalence decision, which is meant to be based on a purely technical assessment of the situation in a third-country, not to be overly politicised, but it is clear that the moment has long passed to claim that equivalence decisions are only technical.

Lacher said: “We are caught in the middle of a political discussion that we can neither influence nor control. Swiss shares represent around 20% of the overall market capitalisation in Europe and appear in the portfolios of almost every institutional investor or fund in Europe. The price impact for EU pensioners, retail investors or policy holders will be real if brokers are no longer able to access SIX to trade these shares in the deepest and most liquid market after December 2018. We continue to ask for a quick Commission decision. In the meantime, EU investors have to be prepared for the worst.”

Brian Hayes MEP, author of the European Parliament report on equivalence, said:

“I was not satisfied with the way the 2017 decision for Switzerland was handled in the context of MiFIR. The Commission decision was too political. A more transparent process and a bigger role for the Parliament are absolutely what is needed to prevent any knock-on effect and risk for Irish and European investors and pensioners.”

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For more information please contact:

Ms Jill Craig, Managing Director, Hume Brophy
Phone: +32 (0)2 792 0242; mobile: +32 (0)485 503043 ; email:

  • Brian Hayes MEP report on equivalence
  • SIX operates and develops infrastructure services in the areas of securities, payment transactions and financial information with the aim of raising efficiency, quality and innovative capacity across the entire value chain of the Swiss financial center. The company is owned by its users (127 banks). With a workforce of some 4,000 employees and a presence in 23 countries, it generated operating income in excess of CHF 1.9 billion and group net profit of CHF 207.2 million in 2017.