[LONDON] The European Union is expected to give the green light for Switzerland's securities clearing house to keep operating inside the 28-country bloc, a senior Swiss markets official said on Friday.
Without EU agreement that Swiss financial rules are equally strict as the bloc's own standards, customers using the London Stock Exchange and other platforms across Europe could face higher costs.
Clearers stand between two sides of a trade to guarantee its completion even if one side goes bust.
"So far as we can judge, the process is on track and we hope to get equivalence this year," Tomas Kindler, head of clearing at SIX Securities Services, part of the Swiss trading to clearing and settlement group.
Reuters reported this week that similar negotiations between the EU and the United States had not proceeded well enough to meet a June deadline.
This has forced the European Commission to seek EU member state backing for extending the deadline to December, its third six-month delay.
Mr Kindler said obtaining equivalence for SIX would be a "big milestone", reducing pressure to decide on whether it should open a clearing house inside the EU.
EU talks with Switzerland have been relatively smooth as the Swiss adopted EU rules into their own laws.
But the United States uses different rules for derivatives contracts, raising the prospect of European clearing houses having to abide by two sets of norms.
"There needs to be an effective system in a third country for recognition of our clearing houses, and to avoid the burden of dual regulation we need to be satisfied that system allows access to EU clearing houses," an EU source familiar with the negotiations said.
"Neither side has finally agreed yet on this but we are in a much more advanced place in terms of mutual recognition. That is not really an issue now," the source said.
There remain key technical differences in applying margins to derivatives trades to cover defaults or swings in prices.
"There are a range of ways to deal with the margin issue, and we have to jointly decide which way to go. Both sides are cognisant of the fact that finding a way to reconcile our standards would be the most effective way to move forward," the source added.