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’26th state’ could be a haven for IFAs

The European Commission could exempt IFAs from EU single-market regulation by the creation of a “26th EU state” for firms wanting to trade across borders.

The proposal, which is outlined in an EC Green Paper on Financial Services Policy, is designed to offer a lifeline to firms which are keen to escape costly EU single-market regulation in the future.

Dubbed by Eurocrats the “26th regime”, companies that want to trade only within their own country could potentially opt out of future directives introduced to regulate inter-state trade, such as Mifid.

The regime would help to stop the practice of gold-plating of EU directives, which has recently been criticised by European Commissioner for internal markets and services Charlie McCreevy.

The EC is planning to launch a study on the feasibility of introducing the regime.

The proposals have gained tentative support from some trade bodies. The Association of British Insurers says the 26th regime is superficially attractive but it raises concerns about the complexities and the possible costs of introd- ucing it.

However, Cardiff Pinnacle deputy head of risk Keith Martin urges the UK financial services industry to back the concept. He says: “The European Union has grossly overdone its single-market measures. Rules to make interstate business easier have been needed but these rules should not be applied an IFA selling a product to someone a couple of miles away from his office.”


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