Ferber digging in for the long haul

Rapporteur Markus Ferber MEP seemed to be expecting a prolonged series of tough negotiations ahead of MiFID II’s final sign-off when he sat down for an hour-long interview with The TRADE in Brussels last week.

When I noted the schedule of meetings in September and October to thrash out the differences between the European Parliament’s MiFID II text (as drafted by Ferber) and the version approved by member states of the Council of the European Union (corralled under the Irish presidency), Ferber corrected me. Dates have already been set aside for discussions in November and December too.

Perhaps no one should be surprised by this level of forward planning. While most attention has focused on differences over rules around dark pools, high-frequency trading and post-trade interoperability in the listed derivatives markets, each of MiFID II / MiFIR’s 10 titles or sections must be discussed by the two sides, under the watch of the European Commission. Ferber sees it as imperative that the process is complete before the end of the year (hence, perhaps, returning to his office a week ahead of the start of term, with the rest of parliament still sleepwalking through the dog days of the summer recess).  As such, he and his fellow trialogue participants will meet every 10 days until the deal is done.  

End-of-year agreement will then provide enough time for the final text to be translated into every official EU language (which typically takes two to three months) before being voted on by all MEPs  in a plenary session of the European Parliament at some point in March or April. European parliamentary elections scheduled for May 22-25 next year provide a very hard stop for the legislative process.

Although happy to talk about the broad principles behind the Parliament’s various positions (for example, he fears allowing organised trading facilities to trade equities would drain liquidity from multilateral trading facilities as well as exchanges), Ferber would not, understandably, be drawn on the precise details of his negotiating stance with member states. “Yes I have red lines.  But I am not telling you what they are. I am not President Obama,” he quipped.

The full interview will be published in the Q3 2013 edition of The TRADE.