|Formed||1 January 2011|
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is an independent European Union Authority located in Paris.
ESMA replaced the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR) on 1 January 2011. It is one of the three new European Supervisory Authorities set up within the European System of Financial Supervisors.
ESMA works in the field of securities legislation and regulation to improve the functioning of financial markets in Europe, strengthening investor protection and co-operation between national competent authorities.
The idea behind ESMA is to establish an "EU-wide financial markets watchdog". One of its direct supervision tasks is to regulate credit rating agencies. In 2010, credit rating agencies were criticized for the lack of transparency in their assessments and for a possible conflict of interest. At the same time, the impact of the assigned ratings became significant not only for companies and banks but also for states.
In October 2017, ESMA organised its first conference which was held in Paris. The event examined issues critical to European financial markets and was attended by 350 participants.
On 1 August 2018, the ESMA implemented modified trading restrictions concerning contracts for difference (CFDs) and spread betting for retail clients. The most significant change was that binary options will be completely banned, while the CFD leverage that retail clients can trade with will be restricted to 30:1 and 2:1, depending on the volatility of the underlying asset traded. These restrictions applied to traders categorized as retail investors only. Experienced traders, which fall under the category of professional clients, were excluded. This also meant that professional clients did not receive the same investor protections as retail investors. The restrictions, initially imposed as a temporary measure, were renewed on 1 February 2019 ,for a further three-month period. On 31 July 2019, the ESMA announced that it will not renew the restrictions after they expire on 1 August 2019, as all the EU member countries have managed to implement similar restrictions on the national level.
To ensure the consistent day-to-day application of Union law within ESMA's remit, one of the organisations' key contributions is the production and maintenance of Q&As. To open the process, ESMA launched in February 2017 a new process allowing stakeholders to submit a Q&A. Once scrutinised, if these Q&As are selected, they are published in English on ESMA's website.