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Stretched Esma says consultation to suffer

Wednesday 12 October 2011 - by Andrew Hickley

Esma flag - photo by Esma

The EU's securities watchdog is concerned that limits on its staff numbers will affect its ability to carry out all of its responsibilities, its executive director has admitted.

Verena Ross on Tuesday expressed fears that the European Securities and Markets Authority's ability to consult industry groups on new rules will suffer as a result.

Esma is tasked with writing technical standards for the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation, forthcoming short selling regulation, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive and the Prospectus Directive.

It must also try to harmonise the implementation of new rules across the EU, Ross said, and must police investor protection issues in financial products and activities. Esma has also been mandated to oversee the day-to-day supervision of cross-European credit rating agencies, and provide data and analysis to help aid financial stability issues.

However it only employs 65 staff members, compared with around 4,000 at Britain's Financial Services Authority, raising concerns that it will be unable to sufficiently engage with the industry.

Ross, speaking in Brussels, said: "We are extremely committed to stakeholder consultation but we are concerned that tight legislative deadlines for Esma's work on technical standards and advice will restrict our ability to consult as extensively as we would ideally like.

"While Esma is due to grow gradually over the next few years (to around 250 staff by 2020), we will always need to be very clear on our priorities and focused on efficient delivery to be able to meet the high expectations and significant challenges ahead," she added.

In April, the pan-European authority was forced to rush through revised guidelines relating to risk management and calculating global exposure and counterparty risk for Ucits products.

Despite being mandated to seek the opinion of its securities and markets stakeholder group - as it is intended to by the regulation governing its creation - Esma had to shortcut approval to ensure member states had enough time to enact the changes into their laws.

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