Milestone for the competitiveness of Liechtenstein’s financial centre

On 30 September 2016, the EEA Joint Committee, whose decisions result in the inclusion of new EU law in the EEA Agreement, decided to incorporate the first package of legal acts relating to the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs).

"This is a milestone for the competitiveness of our financial centre, since equal access to the EU single market has now been secured for our financial centre participants," said Prime Minister Adrian Hasler. The Prime Minister is delighted that the extremely lengthy incorporation process, which required both EEA and constitutional hurdles to be overcome, has finally been concluded in a positive manner. "This also ensures that Liechtenstein alternative investment funds can use the EU passport, which is necessary for cross-border management and distribution of alternative investment funds throughout Europe," said Prime Minister Hasler.

The first EEA incorporation package includes a total of 31 EU legal acts, specifically the EBA, ESMA, and EIOPA Regulations, the ESRB Regulation, the AIFM Directive and its EU implementing acts, the Credit Rating Agencies Regulation (CRA) and its EU implementing acts, the Short Selling Regulation and its EU implementing acts, and the EMIR Regulation. The first incorporation package enters into force on 1 October 2016, with the exception of the EMIR and Short Selling Regulations, the incorporation decisions for which are expected to enter into force only at the beginning of 2017 because of a reservation by Norway.

The European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) and the three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) – namely the European Banking Authority (EBA) headquartered in London, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) headquartered in Frankfurt, and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) headquartered in Paris – began their work at the EU level in January 2011. They were established as the EU's answer to the financial crisis of 2008, with the goal of creating a European network of national and EU supervisory authorities to combine supervision of financial institutions at the national level with strong coordination at the European level.

The inclusion of the EEA/EFTA states Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland in this European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) had to be defined in the following years over the course of several negotiation rounds. Only at the EFTA-ECOFIN ministerial meeting on 14 October 2014 was a political agreement reached between the EU and the EEA/EFTA states. Consequently, this agreement in principle had to be broken down specifically into EEA incorporation decisions with regard to individual EU legal acts, which entailed further intensive detailed negotiations between the EEA/EFTA states and the EU.

"For almost four years now, the Government and the competent offices of the National Administration have done everything in their power to find a sustainable solution and to implement that solution as quickly as possible at the EEA level. The lengthy and difficult negotiations both with the EEA/EFTA partners and with the European Commission were conducted with great dedication. The affected interest associations were also kept informed and included on an ongoing basis," said Prime Minister Adrian Hasler.

The decision of the EEA Joint Committee marks an extremely important conclusion of this complex process for Liechtenstein, secures equal market access to the EU single market, and lays the cornerstone for rapid incorporation into the EEA Agreement of other EU legal acts linked to the ESAs.

The incorporation of this package of legal acts relating to financial services contributes substantially to homogeneity in the single market and thus to equal, unhindered access of Liechtenstein financial intermediaries to the single market (especially in the form of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services).

Prime Minister Adrian Hasler is pleased that this key chapter in the field of financial services has now been successfully concluded.

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