Hunt presses on with reforms to EU financial services rules

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has confirmed his action plan for bringing in post-Brexit reforms to British laws in five key areas, including financial services.

Legislation created by the European Union – such as the Mifid regime and the Gender Neutral Pricing Directive – have been in place for years in the UK, before the UK left the EU officially on January 30, 2020 and saw the transition period end in December that year.

Following this, Hunt revealed in his speech – a lengthy one by current standards, at 53 minutes – the government was “committed to reforming retained EU law”.

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He already unveiled proposed reforms to Solvency II, which Andy Briggs, chief executive of the Phoenix Group, said would “present a significant opportunity to ensure more private sector capital can be directed by insurers into the real economy and ensure we better mobilise the UK’s £3.4trn of pension wealth.”

Solvency II is a EU directive, which came into effect in January 2016, just a few months before the UK voted to leave the EU.

Hunt told the chamber the government was looking to identify changes that can be made over the next year, “which have the greatest potential to unlock growth”.

This work is already underway in several of these sectors, including the government’s ambitious programme of reforms in financial services, Hunt added.

As part of this programme, the government will move rapidly to review retained EU law in key growth industries, including:

  • Digital technology
  • Life sciences
  • Green industries
  • Financial services
  • Advanced manufacturing.

In the Queen’s Speech earlier this year – which was delivered by the then-Prince Charles, the government announced plans to revoke EU financial services regulations and replace it with new rules which are “designed for the UK”.

During the speech, in May, the King announced that the government would bring in a financial services and markets bill, which would strengthen the UK’s financial services industry and ensure it acts “in the interest of all people and communities”.

At the time, Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said: “As we adjust to a UK outside of the EU, there’s an opportunity to move away from EU regulations and open up new forms of support, allowing the financial services industry to help more people.”

Some moves have already been made. For example, in 2021, sister paper the Financial Times reported on the creation of the Joint UK-EU Financial Regulatory Forum memorandum of understanding, which aimed to help shape rules for banks and financial markets. 

simoney.kyriakou@ft.com

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