July 12, 2018 / 1:57 PM / 4 months ago

Luxembourg favours enhanced equivalence for British financial firms

FILE PHOTO: Luxembourg's Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Japan January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said on Thursday that the European Union should offer enhanced access for financial services firms from third countries, something Britain is seeking for its banks after it leaves the bloc.

The EU has “equivalence” regimes which provide limited access for some of non-EU partners to some areas of EU financial services markets. Gramegna said he supported a study into its workings by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

“I think that equivalence in the field of financial services could be an interesting idea that we really need to deepen and we need to make sure that we continue to discuss both to find solutions to have smart access on both sides,” he told reporters before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers, in reply to questions on Britain’s regime after Brexit.

His line seemed to be at odds with the position repeatedly taken by EU negotiators on Brexit that Britain should not be offered special conditions after it leaves the EU next year.

“Equivalence is something that has been used with third countries exceptionally and that’s why it needs to be widened and enhanced and that’s what has been agreed and we think that’s a good route... We support that it should be looked at,” Gramegna said.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has repeatedly said the bloc’s existing system of market access for foreign financial firms could work well for Britain, without the need for bespoke treatment.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Philip Blenkinsop

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