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EU lawmakers pledge backing to delay financial market-law

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The European Union moved closer to pushing back the start date of financial-market rules known as MiFID II, as the bloc's parliament threw its support behind a one-year delay.

[LONDON] The European Union moved closer to pushing back the start date of financial-market rules known as MiFID II, as the bloc's parliament threw its support behind a one-year delay.

The assembly informed the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, that it's "ready to accept" a postponement as long as technical rules needed to implement the law are "swiftly" completed, Markus Ferber, the parliament's lead lawmaker on the law, said in a statement. The deferral means the law would enter into force in January 2018.

In a letter sent on Friday to Commissioner Jonathan Hill, the EU's financial-services chief, the parliament sought talks next month on the implementing measures, which are being prepared by the commission and the European Securities and Markets Authority.

The initial push to delay MiFID II, a vast, complex law that affects nearly every financial firm operating in the 28- nation bloc, from giants like Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to small hedge funds, came from ESMA. Steven Maijoor, who heads the regulator, said there wasn't enough time for banks and other financial institutions to build necessary data- reporting systems before the original 2017 deadline, especially since regulatory technical standards needed to make the rules work in practice probably won't be ready until "well into 2016."

Mr Maijoor called for a "targeted" postponement, "only related to IT systems." The commission poured cold water on that idea. A partial postponement of MiFID II would be "generally not feasible" because of its complexity and scope, according to an undated commission document prepared for technical meetings and obtained by Bloomberg.

The law covers everything from bond-price transparency to rules on how investment research is paid for. It's intended to make EU markets "more efficient, resilient and transparent," according to the commission. Implementation depends on installing information systems, which in turn can't be set up until final versions of the rules and technical standards are in place.

The commission and ESMA "need to come up with a clear road map on the implementation work and especially for setting up the IT systems," Ferber said.

The commission is currently in discussions on the issue with parliament and the Council of the European Union, which represents EU member states. Both bodies would have to approve a delay.

BLOOMBERG