Briefing – Prospectuses for investors – Simplifying equity-raising during the pandemic – 01-07-2021

A prospectus is a legally required document presenting information about a company and the securities that it offers to the public or seeks to admit to trading on a regulated market. The relevant EU legislation consists of a directive, adopted in 2003, amended in 2010, and finally replaced by a regulation in 2017. Drawing up a prospectus entails time and costs, which in the current economic context may deter issuers in distress from seeking to raise new funds, in particular equity. To remedy this, the Commission proposed to amend Regulation (EU) 2017/1129. These amendments aim at creating a temporary (18 month) regime for a short-form prospectus and to simplify the procedure for issuers (so that they can rapidly raise capital), as well as to release pressure on financial intermediaries. The Commission proposal was reviewed by the co-legislators who, among other things, increased the range of those who can benefit from the regime, added elements that must appear in the recovery prospectus and increased the minimum information in the prospectus. They further amended Directive 2004/109/EC (the ‘Transparency Directive’), thus providing Member States with the option to postpone, by one year, the requirement for listed companies.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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Briefing – Understanding initial coin offerings: A new means of raising funds based on blockchain – 13-07-2021

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are a relatively new method of raising capital for early-stage ventures. They allow businesses to raise capital for their projects, by issuing digital tokens in exchange for crypto assets or fiat currencies. They constitute an alternative to more traditional sources of start-up funding such as venture capital (VC) and angel finance. ICOs can potentially offer advantages in comparison with traditional ways of raising capital. At the same time, their opacity and the general tendency for issuers to exploit regulatory loopholes can carry significant risk for investors, may make ICOs vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing, and could even create financial stability concerns. ICOs have been met with a wide range of initial regulatory responses: from an outright ban in the case of China and South Korea, to more supportive approaches in other jurisdictions, with Singapore in Asia and Switzerland in Europe leading the way. As for the European Union (EU) and the United States, the relevant regulatory agencies initially published warning notices, reinforced by statements that securities laws could apply and registration be necessary. The EU went a step further and is currently seeking to partially regulate ICOs, with a proposal for a regulation on markets in crypto-assets (MiCA regulation). Meanwhile, some Member States are currently implementing regulatory sandboxes, to provide an impetus for innovation without imposing the immediate burden of regulation.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – The financial management of visitor groups to the national parliaments – 08-07-2021

In most Member States, visitor’ groups are not sponsored to visit the national parliament. A visit to the national parliament is free of charge, and all the costs related to the visit, for example travel costs, accommodation and local minor expenses, need to be paid by the visitors themselves.
Germany is the only country which has various kinds of programmes where visitors can be reimbursed. Members of Parliament can invite up to 200 people a year of which the travel costs are partially covered by the German Bundestag. There is also a programme which consists of more days for which all the costs related to travel and accommodation are covered by the German government. The German Bundesrat has a programme in which the 16 federal states can invite people for a visit of multiple days to Berlin. In this case the travel costs and accommodation are paid for by the Bundesrat. For all reimbursements, the rules apply that the receipts and underlying documents need to be provided to the Bundestag and Bundesrat after the visit. All documents and receipts are checked through an ex-post control.
The United Kingdom has a programme in which costs are reimbursed, and this programme is funded by the commercial tours of the parliament. In this case, it can be MPs, Peers or the House of Commons or Lords who can invite visitors who are eligible for reimbursement.
In Hungary, only schools can get reimbursement for their travel costs and the entry fee for the national parliament. All the receipts need to be provided to the visitor service of the parliament.
Some countries do have other schemes in which they provide coverage for schools or costs are covered by the MPs’ own funds.
The Council of the EU does not sponsor visitor groups. All visits are requested by visitors themselves and they need to cover all the costs related to the visit themselves. The questions were also sent to the European Commission but no answer was received.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Rail passengers’ rights and obligations in the EU – 12-07-2021

In 2007, the EU established a set of basic rights for rail passengers, which became applicable at the end of 2009. These rights provide for all passengers, including those with reduced mobility, a harmonised minimum level of protection, information and assistance. Reports have concluded that the implementation of these rights, although relatively smooth, is not done uniformly across the EU. Moreover, other shortcomings have prevented these rights from being used to their full potential. In September 2017, the European Commission presented a new proposal to address these issues and to strike a new balance between keeping rail operators competitive and providing adequate passenger protection. The European Parliament adopted its first-reading position on this proposal on 15 November 2018. For its part, the Council adopted its general approach on 2 December 2019, under the Finnish Presidency. Interinstitutional negotiations began at the end of January 2020, and on 1 October 2020, under the Germany Presidency, Council and Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the text. On 29 April 2021, the European Parliament voted in favour of the agreed text as adopted by the Council. The new rules were published in the Official Journal of the EU on 17 May 2021. They will apply in principle to all international and domestic rail journeys and services in the EU from 7 June 2023. However, Member States may exempt domestic rail services for a limited time. Seventh edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Replacement benchmarks for financial benchmarks in cessation – 01-07-2021

The pricing of many financial instruments and contracts depends on the accuracy and integrity of (financial) benchmarks, i.e. indices, by reference to which the amounts payable under such financial instruments or contracts, or the value of certain financial instruments, are determined. The anticipated discontinuation of such a benchmark (LIBOR) after the end of 2021 has created fears that it could lead to disruption in the internal market, given that the Benchmarks Regulation ((EU) 2016/1011) does not provide for mechanisms to organise the orderly discontinuation of systemically important benchmarks in the EU. That is why the Commission has proposed to amend the said regulation. The co-legislators significantly amended the Commission’s proposal. Their amendments deal, among other things, with the replacement of a benchmark by EU, or by national law, set additional obligations for supervised entities using a benchmark, regulate the Commission’s powers to adopt delegated acts and establish additional obligations for the Commission with regards to its proposed consultation. The European Parliament adopted the compromise agreement in plenary on 19 January 2021. On 2 February 2021, the Council adopted the act. The final act was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 12 February 2021. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Understanding delegated and implementing acts – 07-07-2021

Law-making by the executive is a phenomenon that exists not only in the European Union (EU) but also in its Member States, as well as in other Western liberal democracies. Many national legal systems differentiate between delegated legislation − adopted by the executive and having the same legal force as parliamentary legislation − and purely executive acts −aimed at implementing parliamentary legislation, but that may neither supplement nor modify it. In the EU, the distinction between delegated acts and implementing acts was introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. The distinction, laid down in Articles 290 and 291 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), seems clear only at first sight. Delegated acts are defined as non-legislative acts of general application, adopted by the European Commission on the basis of a delegation contained in a legislative act. They may supplement or amend the basic act, but only as to non-essential aspects of the policy area. In contrast, implementing acts are not defined as to their legal nature, but to their purpose − where uniform conditions for implementing legally binding Union acts are needed. Under no circumstances may an implementing act modify anything in the basic act. Delegated acts differ from implementing acts in particular with regard to the procedural aspects of their adoption − the former after consulting Member States’ experts, but their view is not binding; the latter in the comitology procedure, where experts designated by the Member States, sitting on specialised committees, can object to a draft implementing act. In the case of delegated acts, however, the Parliament and Council can introduce, in the delegation itself, a right to object to a draft act or even to revoke the delegation altogether. Both delegated and implementing acts are subject to judicial review by the Court of Justice of the EU which controls their conformity with the basic act.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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