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Britain expects swift financial market access assessment with EU

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union should be able to deliver findings by the middle of the year in assessments for two-way financial market access, Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday.

Sunak said in a letter to the EU’s financial services chief Valdis Dombrovskis that Britain and the bloc should be able to conclude assessments on equivalence-based access swiftly and “I see no reason why we cannot deliver comprehensive positive findings to the June timeline”.

“The UK is committed to meeting this deadline and we are ready to work collaboratively over the next few months to ensure we can both do so,” Sunak said in the letter dated Feb 27 and published on Monday.

Equivalence refers to the EU’s system of allowing direct market access to foreign financial firms from countries whose rules are sufficiently aligned with those in the bloc.

Both sides have said they would conclude assessments by the end of June on the degree to which regulations are aligned, though Brussels has stressed that does not mean an actual decision on access would also be taken at the same time.

Sunak said his officials were ready to start working with Dombrovskis’ team at the European Commission in a “structured way” to move ahead with the assessments.

The EU is the UK financial sector’s biggest customer. Access offered under equivalence is patchy compared with the unfettered access that Britain has until the end of this year under a transition period after it left the EU. Britain wants the bloc to bolt on safeguards to make its access more reliable.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Peter Graff)