The appointment of the UK’s Lord Jonathan Hill as the European commissioner in charge of financial stability, financial services and capital markets union earlier this week has been broadly welcomed by the industry.
His role is a brand new brief as part of the Juncker Commission, though combines many of the elements current overseen by Michel Barnier, commissioner for internal market and services, with more formal responsibility for financial services within the EU as a whole.
The strength of London as a financial hub has often put it at odds with the Commission on financial services regulation that City firms fear will negatively impact their business, and many hope that the appointment of Hill to this new role will lead to a more favourable approach on EU-wide regulation for the industry.
Among those pleased with the new appointment is the Association of British Insurers, which represents many of the UK’s end investors. Its chairman, Paul Evans, said: "Having British representation at the heart of the Commission through this significant new portfolio provides a real opportunity to drive for better outcomes.”
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) also welcomed the move, and in particular the new broad portfolio of financial services responsibilities.
“This recognises the importance of Europe’s capital markets at a crucial moment, as an unprecedented array of new regulatory measures reach the implementation phase,” said Simon Lewis, chief executive of AFME.
“We look forward to providing the industry assistance necessary to ensure the reforms deliver an efficient, well-integrated financial services market, supporting growth in the European economy.”
Though the move means that responsibility for major pieces of regulation such as MiFID II and the European market infrastructure regulation now fall under the remit of Lord Hill, they are largely through the legislative drafting process in which Barnier took a relatively hard line against the industry.
Nonetheless, drafting of regulatory technical standards is ongoing and, where there may be potential difficulties in developing specific rules to handle issues in political agreements, the new Commission may be expected to take a more favourable approach to the industry in order to support London’s place as a major finance hub.