EU Lawmakers Seal Deal

Accord reached on financial-market rules overhaul for high-frequency trading and commodity speculation.

European Union (EU) lawmakers clinched a deal to toughen the bloc’s financial-market rulebook, backing sweeping measures that will put the brakes on high-frequency trading and curb speculation in commodity derivatives. The overhaul, which will push more activity onto regulated platforms, is designed to remedy deficiencies laid bare in the 2008 financial crisis. The accord ends more than two years of haggling over proposals from Michel Barnier, the EU’s financial services chief.

“These new rules will improve the way capital markets function to the benefit of the real economy,” Barnier said in an e-mailed statement after yesterday’s agreement in Strasbourg, France. “They are a key step towards establishing a safer, more open, and more responsible financial system and restoring investor confidence.”

Points on which the assembly didn’t managed to win included a bid to bolster protection for investors in insurance products, he said. Parliament was also unable to go as far as it sought in setting up a common system on non-EU firms’ access to investors in the bloc, he said.

The deal “marks a good start in tackling ‘gambling’ on food prices, which are a matter of life and death to millions in the developing world,” Marc Olivier Herman, Oxfam’s EU policy adviser, said in a statement. “The agreement introduces limits on speculating in spite of attempts by the U.K. and other governments to block any meaningful reform.” 

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