The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published proposed guidance on Thursday that aims to prevent regulatory arbitrage and to maintain orderly financial markets and investor protection if and when the U.K. exits the European Union (EU).
The goal of the sector-specific principles for investment firms, investment management and secondary markets is to ensure consistency in the regulation of firms, and enforcement, for firms that decide to relocate from the U.K. when it formally leaves the EU.
The guidance is intended to provide a consistent interpretation of the regulatory requirements for firms that are planning to relocate from the U.K. to Europe to avoid regulatory and supervisory arbitrage risks.
"The U.K. plays a prominent role in EU financial markets and the possible relocation of entities, activities and functions … creates a unique situation requiring a common effort, at EU level, to safeguard investor protection, the orderly functioning of financial markets and financial stability," the ESMA guidance says.
"ESMA in developing these opinions is conscious of the fundamentals of the single market, including the freedom to locate, a cornerstone of the Capital Market Union, however it also needs to ensure that firms are treated in a convergent manner and do not select a location just for reasons of regulatory or supervisory arbitrage," says Steven Maijoor, ESMA's chairman, in a statement.