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By Marc Jones and Huw Jones
LONDON, May 3 (Reuters) - Revamped versions of the Euribor and Eonia interest rate benchmarks are set to get the regulatory green light by the end of the year, helping the euro zone catch up with reforms aimed at avoiding a repeat of the global rate-rigging scandals.
Jean-Louis Schirmann, the Secretary General of the Brussels-based administrator of Euribor and Eonia, told Reuters it had applied for approval with the Belgian financial markets regulator FSMA and hoped for clearance in the coming months.
“We can confirm that this is EMMI’s (European Money Markets Institute) intention,” Schirmann said on Friday.
FSMA confirmed the application, telling Reuters it expects to be able to grant EMMI approval for Euribor this summer, with both “compliant” with new EU benchmark rules by the end of the year.
Eonia and Euribor are two of the main euro-denominated measures of money market lending rates and are widely used as a reference for pricing home loans, credit cards and other products.
Banks in Europe and the United States were fined billions of dollars over the last decade for trying to rig Euribor and its larger cousin, the London Interbank Overnight Rate or Libor.
EMMI’s application comes despite a recent decision by the European Commission to give ‘critical’ benchmarks like Euribor and Eonia an two extra years to end of 2021 to comply with new rules.
Central banks are publishing their own “risk-free” rates as an alternative to Libor and its variants.
The Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are already publishing their rates, but the European Central Bank is not due to start publishing its “Ester” rate until later this year.
“The euro area is lagging, with the ECB launch of risk-free benchmark rate Ester slated for October 2019, while Euribor will likely be alive longer than other Libor rates,” JPMorgan said.
This means the euro area will likely have a “hybrid” system for a while, meaning reformed rates and the new “risk-free” rate will sit side-by-side. This contrasts with Britain, where regulators want the BoE’s rate to replace Libor by the end of 2021.
Formal approval for a revamped Euribor would also take pressure off industry to come up with a “fallback” for use if it was being discontinued. (Reporting by Marc Jones and Huw Jones; Editing by Hugh Lawson)