EU Unveils No-Deal Brexit Plans to Avert Financial-Market Chaos

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union pledged to allow U.K. financial infrastructure firms such as London Stock Exchange Group Plc’s clearing unit to continue serving the bloc in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said equivalence procedures for clearing and securities settlement can be “swiftly deployed” to prevent a market rupture if the U.K. quits the bloc next March without a divorce deal or transition period. It encouraged U.K. firms to apply to the EU for recognition, a requirement to do business in the single market.

EU-based firms have derivative contracts with a notional value of 69 trillion pounds ($89 trillion) at U.K. clearinghouses, with about 41 trillion pounds of that maturing after the U.K.’s withdrawal, according to the Bank of England.

The commission’s pledge on Tuesday came in an update to official Brexit planning documents. It’s the strongest sign yet that that EU regulators will maintain financial stability even after officials have insisted that firms were responsible for addressing the threats that a no-deal Brexit would pose to insurance policies and derivatives contracts as well as data sharing.

Clearinghouses such as LSE’s unit LCH Ltd. stand between the two sides of derivatives trades and hold collateral -- also known as margin -- from both in case a member defaults. LCH’s dominance of euro-derivatives clearing turned the issue into a flashpoint in the Brexit talks, as EU politicians said more of that activity should take place within the single market.

The EU executive also responded to industry warnings about Brexit’s threat to data flows between the EU and the U.K. A “broad toolbox for data transfers to third countries” is available under existing regulations, such as securing explicit consent from clients, so the commission said it’s not planning to issue the kind of “adequacy decision” that British lawmakers have called for.

No contingency measures will be needed for non-cleared “over-the-counter” derivative contracts or insurance policies, the commission said. U.K. regulators have been warning for more than a year that a disorderly Brexit with no transition period could put such financial contracts at risk.

The commission promised to issue an equivalence decision covering U.K. central security depositories, which settle trades in equities. Ireland has relied on a U.K.-based firm called Crest to settle trades since the 1990s.

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