Blog Post

Losing “EU passport” would damage City of London

If the UK cannot secure a “Norway” deal and stay within the internal market, the UK will lose the passporting rights which make London attractive as a financial centre. The macroeconomic fall-out from Brexit has also damaged the performance of banks and insurers.

By: Date: June 28, 2016 Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation

1. Passporting

Part of London’s attractiveness as international financial centre is the access to the internal market of the wider European Economic Area (EEA). By using a UK licence as European passport, foreign financial firms can offer their financial services throughout the EEA. If the UK cannot secure a “Norway” deal and stay within the internal market, the UK will lose these passporting rights.

The internal market is underpinned by a network of Directives and Regulations, which permit access to other EEA member states if a firm has a licence in one member state (the ‘home’ member state). The most important directives for financial services are:

  • the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV, 2013/36/EU) for banking
  • the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID, 2004/39/EC) for investment services
  • the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD, 2011/61/EU) for hedge funds and private equity
  • the Insurance and Reinsurance Directive (Solvency II, 2009/138/EC) for insurance

We illustrate the how the passport works legally with the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV), the legal framework for credit institutions (banks). The passport consist of several elements of the CRD IV:

  • Licence: Title III of CRD IV (Articles 8 to 21) specifies the requirements for access to activity of credit institutions. The main element is authorisation by the home supervisor, which provides the single licence.
  • Freedom of establishment: Title V (Articles 33-39) contains the provisions concerning the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services. It means that if a credit institution is authorised in one member state, it has the freedom to establish a branch in (or to provide services to) any other EEA member state without prior approval. The credit institution only needs to notify the host country supervisor.
  • Home supervision: Title VII sets out the principles of prudential supervision, which predominantly gives powers to the home supervisor with some very limited powers for the host supervisor in the area of liquidity supervision. As these powers of liquidity supervision are related to the operations in different currencies, the new European Banking Supervision framework has decided to give up these host country powers within the euro area, which uses the single currency (Schoenmaker and Veron, 2016).

This system of full access based on a single passport (provided by the home country supervisor) is constrained to the EEA. So, if the UK were to leave the EEA, UK licensed banks (either UK head-quartered or foreign-headquartered) would need to obtain an extra licence from the host supervisor in an EEA member state in order to offer financial services in that member state.

An extra licence would be necessary for all forms of cross-border services, ie through the establishment of a branch or subsidiary or through the direct offering of cross-border services. The UK would then become a third country, which needs to find a point of access for business in the EEA. Similarly, EEA financial institutions would need to apply for a licence to enter the UK. The other Directives apply a similar passporting system to the CRD IV.

2. Banking vs insurance

An interesting question is whether different financial sectors are equally affected by possible changes in passporting arrangements for the financial sector. We examine the two largest financial sectors, banking and insurance. It appears that banking relies far more on the passport than insurance. We measure this by differentiating cross-border business through branches (based on the passport) and subsidiaries (new licence).

Table 1 reports the relative share of branches and subsidiaries in cross-border business. The passport (branch) is not important for insurance. The aggregate number for all EU member states is 13 percent, and even less for the UK at 9 percent. These are minor amounts. The main vehicle is through subsidiaries, because insurers want to contain ‘insurance’ risk in separate legal entities. At the aggregate EU level, the relative share of branches is 36% for banking.

Finally, European banks typically use their passport to enter the London wholesale market; that is for 69 percent of the cases. Many international banks, including the major European ones, have branches operating in London, which is an international financial centre, but actually do little business with UK clients (Burrows and Low, 2015).

Summing up, insurance will be far less affected than banking if and when the UK leaves the EU. Next, the major European banks would need to apply for a UK licence, if they want to keep on doing business in London. Examples are Deutsche, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, ING and UniCredit. The largest European bank in London is Deutsche Bank, which gets 19 percent of its total net revenues from its UK branch (Deutsche Bank, Annual Report 2015). In turn, the UK banks would need to apply for a licence in the EEA. Some major banks have already a subsidiary on the continent: HSBC in France and RBS in the Netherlands. Barclays is operating through branches, for example, in Italy and France (Schoenmaker and Véron, 2016). Lloyds Bank has almost no foreign business.

3. What do the stock markets tell us?

Next to changes in passporting arrangements, the macroeconomic fallout from Brexit also damages the performance of banks and insurers. Reduced economic growth will directly affect banks in the UK as well as the rest of Europe. Lower interest rates would affect the business model of banks. Insurance companies would also suffer from lower interest rates, as the discounted value of their liabilities increases. On the asset side, insurers have made losses due to the financial market turmoil.

Figures 1 to 5 illustrate stock market performance in the UK as well as 4 other major EU countries from 22 June (the day before the referendum) till 28 June (3 working days after the referendum). Banks and insurers have experienced a far larger price decline than non-financial companies. While UK insurers are more affected that UK banks, it is the opposite for their European counterparts. In line with the larger changes in passporting arrangements, the banks are more affected than insurers in the 4 EU countries.

The authors would like to thank Bennet Berger and Alvaro Leandro for excellent research assistance.

 


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

A tangled tale of bank liquidation in Venice

What can we learn about the Italian banking sector from the decision to liquidate Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza? Silvia Merler sees a tendency for Italy to let politics outweigh economics.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: June 26, 2017
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Can EU actors keep using common law after Brexit?

English common law is the choice of law for financial contracts, even for parties in EU members with civil law systems. This creates a lucrative legal sector in the UK, but Brexit could make UK court decisions difficult to enforce in the EU. Parties will be able to continue using English common law after Brexit, but how will these contracts be enforced? Some continental courts are preparing to make judicial decisions on common law cases in the English language.

By: Uuriintuya Batsaikhan and Dirk Schoenmaker Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 22, 2017
Read article More by this author

Parliamentary Testimony

House of Commons

Exiting the European Union Committee

On 19 April 2017 Zsolt Darvas appeared as a witness at the Exiting the European Union Committee, the House of Commons, United Kingdom.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, House of Commons, Testimonies Date: June 20, 2017
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Brexit and the future of the Irish border

The future of the Irish land border has been thrown into uncertainty by Brexit. The UK's confirmation that it will leave the EU's single market and customs union implies that customs checks will be needed. However, there is little desire for hard controls from any of the parties involved. This is especially true for Theresa May's potential partner, the DUP. Creative solutions are needed to reach a solution.

By: Filippo Biondi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 19, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Bail-ins and bank resolution in Europe

This invitation-only event will feature a presentation by Thomas Philippon of a report on bail-ins and bank resolution in Europe. Failed financial firms should not be bailed out by the taxpayers. Europe, unfortunately, has a weak track record of following this principle of good governance and sound economic policy. The banking union, with its new […]

Speakers: Thomas Philippon Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 19, 2017
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

External Publication

A New Liquidity Risk Measure for the Chilean Banking Sector

This paper introduces a new metric for central banks – and in particular for the Central Bank of Chile – to measure liquidity risk in their banking sector using the bidding behavior of commercial banks in their open market operations.

By: Grégory Claeys, Sebastián Becerra and Juan Francisco Martínez Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: June 7, 2017
Read article Download PDF More by this author

Policy Contribution

German Bundestag

Charting the next steps for the EU financial supervisory architecture

The combination of banking union and Brexit justifies a reform of the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in the near term, in line with the subsidiarity principle and the accountability of EBA and ESMA and their scrutiny by the European Parliament should be enhanced as a key element of their governance reform.

By: Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, German Bundestag Date: June 7, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Substance requirements for financial firms moving out from the UK

In the run-up to Brexit, UK-based financial firms are considering how to organize their operations across the future divide between the UK and EU27. This event will discuss the regulatory requirements on how self-sustaining the operations in the EU should be, and implications for the single market and third countries.

Speakers: Gerry Cross, Simon Gleeson and Nicolas Véron Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 2, 2017
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

Pharmaceutical industry at risk from Brexit

Pharmaceuticals are a hugely important industry for the EU and the UK. The sector creates thousands of jobs, billions of euros in exports, and is Europe’s most research-intense industry. But will Brexit mean for pharma? Border delays, disruption to R&D and regulatory divergence all pose hazards.

By: Jianwei Xu Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 31, 2017
Read article Download PDF More by this author

Policy Contribution

The governance and ownership of significant euro-area banks

This Policy Contribution shows that listed banks with dispersed ownership are the exception rather than the rule among the euro area’s significant banks, especially beyond the very largest banking groups. The bulk of these significant banks are government-owned or cooperatives, or influenced by large shareholders, or prone to direct political influence.

By: Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Date: May 30, 2017
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

Les banques européennes se retirent-elles de la scène internationale?

Dirk Schoenmaker conducts a comparative analysis of global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) and examines their evolution (Note: this paper is available only in French).

By: Dirk Schoenmaker Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: May 23, 2017
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

UK economic performance post-Brexit

What’s at stake: Almost a year after the UK voted to leave the European Union, its economic performance has showed mixed results. The risks of a Brexit-induced recession do not seem to be materialising. On the contrary, up until the end of 2016 the UK saw a continuation of strong consumer spending and strong output in consumer-focused activities. However, the UK economy is showing signs of slowing down in the first quarter of 2017, with weak growth in the services sector and business investments. In addition, strong consumption growth started to cool down as individuals’ purchasing power declines due to a weaker exchange rate. This leads to a question whether it is the beginning of the Brexit slowdown. We review the contributions made on this topic in the last year.

By: Uuriintuya Batsaikhan and Justine Feliu Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 15, 2017
Load more posts