December 20, 2017 / 7:00 PM / a year ago

European Union agrees to give Swiss stock exchanges temporary access to EU market

BRUSSELS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - European Union member states agreed on Wednesday to grant Switzerland's stock exchanges temporary access to the bloc's internal market, two EU officials said, part of a broader deal aimed at defining Bern's ties with the bloc.

The European Commission is set to formally endorse the decision on Thursday, which will recognise shares trading on the SIX Swiss Exchange and BX Swiss as equivalent to exchanges based in the EU and vice-versa from Jan. 3. That will avoid disruption after new MiFID II market rules come into force on that date.

"The draft decision to recognise trading venues in Switzerland as eligible for compliance ... got the backing today of 27 EU member states," a Commission official said.

A second official said the decision was for one year, saying it should allow for a general accord by the end of next year on Switzerland's access to the EU market.

The Swiss government threatened earlier on Wednesday to retaliate if the European Union did not give Swiss stock exchanges the same regulatory status as exchanges in other countries.

The European Commission had initially proposed an open-ended adoption of equivalence for the Swiss exchanges, in line with a deal on U.S. trading venues, documents seen by Reuters showed.

But Switzerland's reluctance to sign an overall deal on its relations with the EU, of which it is a close partner but not a member, pushed the Commission to review the offer on trading venues, EU sources said.

The so-called "institutional agreement" under negotiation between Bern and Brussels would give Switzerland easier access to the EU's single market of more than 400 million people. In exchange, Switzerland would more closely align with EU rules and make broader commitments to the block. (Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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