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European Securities and Markets Authority

Abbbreviations: ESMA

The 2008 financial crisis revealed many shortcomings in financial supervision. It exposed the lack of cooperation, coordination and consistency between Member States in their national management of the practices of financial institutions. The ESMA aims at restoring Europeans’ trust and preventing risks of destabilising the global banking system in the securities sector.

The Regulation  (EU) No 1095/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 establishes the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). It forms part of the package of measures implemented to reform the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) which creates three other organisations to monitor financial activities:

Supervision of the financial system of the European Union (EU) is further reinforced by the activities of:

  • the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities;
  • the competent or supervisory authorities of Member States.

Establishment and legal status of the ESMA

The objective of the ESMA is to safeguard the stability and effectiveness of the financial system. It acts mainly in the field of activities of:

  • firms offering investment services;
  • corporate governance;
  • auditing;
  • financial reporting.

In addition, the scope of ESMA action covers:

  • the Directive on settlement finality in payment and securities settlement systems (Directive  98/26/EG);
  • the Directive on financial collateral arrangements (Directive  2002/47/EG);
  • the Directive on the prospectus to be published when securities are offered to the public (Directive  2003/71/EG);
  • the Directive on the transparency of information about issuers of securities (Directive  2004/109/EG);
  • the Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (Directive  2011/61/EU).

The ESMA has legal personality and has its seat in Paris.

Tasks and powers of the ESMA

The ESMA is responsible for carrying out certain tasks, such as:

  • contributing to the establishment of regulatory and supervisory standards and practices;
  • monitoring and assessing the market in the area of its competence;
  • fostering the protection of investors.

In order to meet these objectives, the ESMA has a leading role which consists in particular of:

  • developing draft regulatory and implementing technical standards;
  • issuing guidelines and recommendations;
  • providing a centrally accessible database of financial institutions in the area of its competence.

The ESMA also carries out activities relating to consumer protection, for example by analysing consumer trends or by developing training standards for industry.

Organisation of the ESMA

The ESMA has a Board of Supervisors that is responsible for giving guidance on its activities. The Board is composed of:

  • a Chairperson;
  • the head of the competent national public authority;
  • a representative of the Commission;
  • a representative of the ESRB;
  • a representative of each of the two other European Supervisory Authorities.

The ESMA also has a Management Board.

Joint bodies of the European Supervisory Authorities

The joint bodies of the European Supervisory Authorities are:

  • the Joint Committee of European Supervisory Authorities which is responsible for cooperating with them as regards financial conglomerates, accounting and auditing, micro-prudential analyses, retail investment products, measures combating money laundering and information exchange with the ESRB;
  • the Board of Appeal which provides legal advice on the legality of the ESMA’s exercise of its powers.

Any natural or legal person may appeal against a decision of the ESMA, in writing, within two months of the date of notification of the decision. The Board of Appeal has a period of two months as from the appeal being lodged to confirm the decision taken by the ESMA or to remit the case to a competent body.

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