ESMA (the European Securities and Markets Authority) is an independent EU authority established on 1 January 2011.
ESMA works closely with the other European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) responsible for banking (EBA), insurance and occupational pensions (EIOPA), and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) - together forming the overall European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS).
The System is a network that brings together European and national regulators and supervisory authorities from across the EU.
ESMA's mission is to enhance the protection of investors and promote stable and well-functioning financial markets in the EU.
As an independent institution, ESMA achieves this aim by building a single rule book for EU financial markets and ensuring its consistent application across the EU.
As underlined by the ESMA’s Chair, Steven Maijoor, Chair (Back to the future: a look into ESMA's next decade, ESMA 10 Year Anniversary Conference Closing remarks, 23 March 2021), ESMA was set up as part of the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) based on the recommendations, back in 2009, of a high-level committee chaired by Jacques de Larosière.
These recommendations were meant to overcome the issues encountered with building a single market for financial services under the coordination of the previous Level 3 Committees and, in particular, ESMA’s predecessor: the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR).
The core aim of these recommendations was to ‘come up with a European system of common rules and combat the extreme fragmentation of the “national exceptions” which, in fact, encouraged regulatory trade-offs and prevented the operation of a genuine common market in terms of finance’.
ESMA contributes to the regulation of financial firms with a pan-European reach, either through direct supervision or through the active co-ordination of national supervisory activity.
However, as underlined by the ESMA’s Executive Director Verena Ross in her Keynote Address at the Global ABS 2019 Conference at Barcelona, it is to be noted that the ESMA, in fact, is a technical, and not a legislative body.
It means, in particular, that ESMA’s standards and advice ”are not EU law - they are submitted to the European Commission, who must decide whether to adopt them into EU law, after providing the Parliament and Council with an opportunity to object”.
ESMA's organisation and governance
ESMA's governance and management is welll depicted in the ESMA's document of 29 September 2015 (ESMA/2015/1475).
ESMA is governed by the two decision-making bodies: the Board of Supervisors and the Management Board.
ESMA has a full-time Chair, Steven Maijoor, and an Executive Director, Verena Ross. Both are based at ESMA's premises in Paris.
These are five-year terms subject to one-off renewal.
The Chair is responsible for preparing the work of the Board of Supervisors and chairs both the meetings of the Board of Supervisors and the Management Board. He also represents the ESMA externally.
The Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day running of the ESMA, including staff matters, developing and implementing the annual work programme, developing the draft budget of the Authority and preparing the work of the Management Board.
ESMA's Board of Supervisors
In addition to the ESMA Chair, the Board of Supervisors is currently composed of the heads of 28 national authorities with the European Commission, EBA and EIOPA and the ESRB as non-voting members. In addition, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are invited to attend as permanent observers.
The Board guides the work of the ESMA and has the ultimate decision-taking responsibility regarding the approval of Technical Standards and enforcement action and the adoption of ESMA's guidelines, opinions and any other decisions, including the issuance of advice to the EU institutions.
ESMA's Management Board
In addition to the ESMA Chair, the Management Board of ESMA is composed of six members selected from the Board of Supervisors by its members. The Vice-Chair, Executive Director and a representative from the European Commission attend as non-voting participants (except on budget matters where the European Commission has a vote).
The main role of the Management Board is to focus on the management aspects of the ESMA, such as the development of a multi-annual work programme, the budget and staff resources.
ESMA's Securities and Markets Stakeholder Group
The Securities and Markets Stakeholder Group was established under ESMA's founding Regulation to help facilitate consultation with stakeholders in areas relevant to ESMA's tasks. ESMA is required to consult the Group on its draft guidelines and Technical Standards.
The Group is composed of 30 members appointed by ESMA for a period of two and a half years. They variously represent financial market participants and their employees, consumers and other retail users of financial services, academics and small and medium-sized enterprises.
ESMA's founding regulation
ESMA's founding legislative act is the Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 establishing a European Supervisory Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority), amending Decision No 716/2009/EC and repealing Commission Decision 2009/77/EC.
23 March 2021
Regulation (EU) 2019/2175 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2019 amending Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010 establishing a European Supervisory Authority (European Banking Authority), Regulation (EU) No 1094/2010 establishing a European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority), Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 establishing a European Supervisory Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority), Regulation (EU) No 600/2014 on markets in financial instruments, Regulation (EU) 2016/1011 on indices used as benchmarks in financial instruments and financial contracts or to measure the performance of investment funds, and Regulation (EU) 2015/847 on information accompanying transfers of funds
Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 establishing a European Supervisory Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority), amending Decision No 716/2009/EC and repealing Commission Decision 2009/77/EC