Swiss bank lobby urges government to toughen stance on EU equivalence


© Reuters. Flags of the European Union and Switzerland flutter in the wind in Blotzheim

By Joshua Franklin

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland’s banking lobby on Thursday called on the government to end talks with the European Union about continued EU budget contributions unless Brussels recognizes Swiss finance rules as equivalent with EU laws.

Equivalency is one of the ways through which banks in Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, gain limited EU market access in some business areas.

Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) Chief Executive Claude-Alain Margelisch said Switzerland’s proposed rules were suitably in line with the EU’s sweeping revision of its securities rules, MiFID II, and saw “no reason for the EU member states to deny Switzerland recognition of equivalency”.

However, according to prepared remarks SBA Chairman Herbert Scheidt said the EU “is still moving much too slowly” on the equivalence question.

“The association advocates open markets and insists on recognition by the EU of equivalence for relevant Swiss laws,” the SBA said in a statement.

“If equivalence in the area of finance cannot be provided, no in-depth discussions should be conducted with the EU about the cohesion contribution.”

Switzerland’s voluntary cohesion payments to the EU budget have in the past helped fund development projects in eastern European EU members, but the Bern government said in June it was still weighing whether to keep making such payments.

The MiFID II law injects more transparency into stock, bond and commodities markets, and requires more derivatives to be traded on a platform, rather than privately between banks, to apply lessons from the 2007-09 financial crisis.

While crafting the Swiss version, FIDLEG and FINIG, Swiss lawmakers have been trying to find the balance between making them tough enough to comply with the EU standard and loose enough so the rules are not too burdensome on banks.

Switzerland is home to more than 200 banks, including giants UBS (S:UBSG) and Credit Suisse (S:CSGN).

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