On 23 February 2021, the European Commission published the speech that Commissioner McGuinness gave at the European Parliamentary Financial Services Forum Winter Conference, ‘What vision for Europe?’

Key points in the speech include:

  • Some Member States are expected to see economic output returning to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year, while the recovery will take longer and be more difficult in other Member States.
  • The recovery should focus on the green and digital transition. Structural initiatives such as the Capital Markets Union (CMU) and measures on non-performing loans can lead the way to further enable financial markets to support the economic recovery.
  • This year, the Commission will look at the review of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive framework. The Commission’s objective is to put forward a legislative proposal at the end this year. In particular:
    • The Commission is aware of the potentially declining volume of trading in shares executed on transparent regulated exchanges, while volumes on generally more opaque alternative venues seem to have grown to unanticipated levels, such as trading through banks’ internal books.
    • The Commission will assess whether different execution venues operate on a level playing field and, whether transparency requirements need to be strengthened.
    • The review will also be an opportunity to have a fresh look at trading data and its quality. It will allow the Commission to put in place the right conditions for a consolidated tape, as envisaged in the CMU Action Plan.
    • In parallel, the Commission wants to focus on retail investment and investor protection more broadly to ensure that retail investors seize the investment potential of the internal market. Many EU instruments, including the MiFID framework, address their situation. The Commission believes that there may be merit in looking at the investor’s journey in a horizontal way, from the very beginning until the very end of the investment process.
  • The European Green Deal will be vital for the EU’s economic recovery. Later this year the Commission will present a Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy. It will also review the non-financial reporting directive, and present an EU Green Bond Standard.
  • The EU and the UK committed in the Joint Declaration to establish a framework for regulatory cooperation in financial services by March 2021. Once the Commission agrees with the UK on the working arrangements for the future relationship, the Commission will turn to resuming its unilateral equivalence assessments, using the same criteria as for all third countries, including AML and tax cooperation.