How Many Single Rulebooks? The EU’s Patchwork Approach to Ensuring Regulatory Consistency in the Area of Investment Management

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Publication Date 2022
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The principle of consistency has undergone a remarkable evolution in the European Union (EU) from a mere political objective to a justiciable constitutional principle of EU law. In the area of financial regulation, regulatory consistency plays a particularly salient role as it is considered a prerequisite for preserving financial stability. In the wake of the 2007/2008 financial crisis, EU policy makers coined the concept of the Single Rulebook, highlighting the importance of a consistent and unified regulatory framework for the EU financial sector with a view to completing the Single Market in financial services and ensuring financial stability.

This article examines the progress made towards achieving the Single Rulebook in the area of investment management over a decade after the financial crisis. The post-crisis EU legislation in this area follows a patchwork approach with a multitude of Level 1 and Level 2 directives and regulations that largely rely on the contrived legal form and labels to determine the applicable rules. This form-over-substance approach has created a complicated regulatory regime that is often detached from actual risks for investors and financial stability and thus fails to achieve the overarching policy goal of ensuring regulatory consistency.

The central argument put forward in this article is that the Single Rulebook would be better achieved with a substance-over-form approach that addresses substantially similar investor protection and financial stability risks in a consistent manner.

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