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Benchmark Regulation

Benchmark Regulation

A benchmark is a reference value against which the performance of financial instruments may be measured. Benchmarks may be based on an index covering financial instruments of the same class, e.g. stocks or bonds. They can also be calculated for a specific industry, a type of company or as a reference value for the broader economy.

The integrity of benchmarks is critical to the pricing of many financial instruments, such as interest rate swaps, commercial and non-commercial contracts, loans and mortgages and risk management. Any risk of manipulation of benchmarks may undermine market confidence, cause significant losses to investors and distort the real economy. This is what the Regulation on indices used as benchmarks in financial instruments and financial contracts or to measure the performance of investment funds (Benchmark Regulation) addresses.

The Benchmark Regulation was reviewed in 2019 to add two new categories of EU climate transition benchmarks and EU Paris-aligned Benchmarks, as well as sustainability-related disclosures for benchmarks.

Furthermore, a targeted review of the Benchmark regulation took also place during 2020, following the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announcement in 2017 that the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) will be phased out by the end of 2021. According the new rules, the European Commission will be able to replace critical benchmarks and other benchmarks with a so-called statutory replacement benchmark, if their termination would lead to a significant disruption in the functioning of financial markets in the EU.

In addition, the amended rules extend the transition regime for third-country benchmarks and allow EU supervised entities to use them until the end of 2023.

Objective

EU regulation is necessary as it improves the functioning and governance of benchmarks and ensures that benchmarks which are defined and used in the EU are robust, reliable, representative and fit for purpose and that they are not subject to manipulation. The Benchmark Regulation was proposed in 2013 in order to restore confidence in benchmarks following LIBOR and EURIBOR scandals. However, the regulation covers a broad range of benchmarks, which differ in their character. Regulated data benchmarks (determined on the basis of input data from regulated venues), for example, are less prone to manipulation compared to interest rate benchmarks.

Timeline

The Benchmark Regulation (Level 1) entered into force on 30 June 2016 and has been applied since 1 January 2018. The regulatory technical standards, implementing acts and delegated acts (Level 2) entered into force on 25 November 2018 and have been applied since 25 January 2019.

The amendments related to Climate benchmarks were published in the Official Journal in December 2019 and entered into force on 30 April 2020. In July 2020, the European Commission adopted delegated acts setting out minimum technical requirements for the methodology of EU climate benchmarks. The delegated acts are currently subject to a scrutiny period by the European Parliament and the Council.

The amendments regarding the exemption of certain third-country spot foreign exchange benchmarks and the designation of replacements for certain benchmarks in cessation were published in the Official Journal on 12 February 2021 and entered into force the following day.

Benchmark Regulation: the highlighted parts of the value chain are affected


STOXX recognized as administrator under Benchmark Regulation

The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) has recognized STOXX, the operator of Deutsche Börse’s index business and a global provider of innovative and tradable index concepts, as administrator under EU Benchmark Regulation. Indices administered by STOXX are now included in the ESMA Benchmarks Register.

Benchmarks Regulation & Structural Changes to Deutsche Börse Group’s Index business

Marketdata trading

Learn more about EU Benchmark Regulation, the transfer of administration of Deutsche Börse AG’s indices and the implications of Axioma acquisition to Deutsche Börse Group’s Index business.

STOXX: indices that meet your needs

STOXX calculates more than 10,000 indices from blue-chip and benchmark to strategy and smart-beta indices. They are licensed to more than 500 companies, including the world’s largest financial products issuers, capital owners and asset managers.

Qontigo Whitepaper April 2020: DAX® 50 ESG – The New Standard in German ESG Investing

Sustainability

The DAX® 50 ESG Index is the flagship index for sustainable equity investments in Germany and the latest addition to the DAX® index offerings. The paper examines the rationale behind the index construction, reviews its methodology and analyses its performance to that of appropriate benchmarks.

Qontigo Whitepaper July 2020: An Introduction to the STOXX Paris-aligned Benchmark Indices

Cube people architecture

The paper illustrates the processes that Qontigo followed in constructing the STOXX Paris-aligned Benchmark Indices, with specific focus on the STOXX® Europe 600 Paris-Aligned Benchmark Index (PAB), as well as the additional steps taken to strengthen the objectives of the EU PABs.

DAX will be strengthened by additional qualification criteria and harmonisation with international standard

Frankfurt/Main skyline

On 24 November 2020, Qontigo’s global index provider STOXX Ltd. published revised rules for the DAX Selection Indices (DAX, MDAX, SDAX and TecDAX). The comprehensive changes in the index rules were decided to increase the quality of the DAX indices and to align them with international standards. These rules will now be introduced successively.

Legal basis

Find the most recent legal text on this regulation here.