The French Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (Autorité du Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution, or ACPR) and the French Financial Markets Authority (Autorité des Marchés Financiers, or AMF) have announced a joint initiative intended both to reassure certain British institutions (including British subsidiaries of other institutions) as to the possible consequences of a “hard Brexit” and to encourage them to create or continue branches or other forms of permanent presence in France.
Currently, insurance companies, investment firms, payment institutions or electronic money institutions established in the United Kingdom are entitled to operate in France, either on a cross-border basis from the home jurisdiction (freedom to provide services) or in France itself under the right of establishment, through use of the “passport” mechanism. This ability may be lost as a result of Brexit, requiring companies currently operating directly in France to establish entities licensed and supervised by the ACPR itself. Under the newly announced initiative, streamlined procedures will be put into place for the licensing of such entities.
In the case of activities that are already supervised by the relevant authority of the home jurisdiction, the licensing procedure will be simplified and accelerated, by using documents which are already available in English, for example the same forms supplied to the home country authorities or for existing branches to be acquired by the subsidiary. Any entity making the necessary application will be allocated an English-speaking contact to liaise with concerning all applications, and the applications themselves are all available in English on the ACPR website. Moreover, a special “Brexit inbox” has been opened at email@example.com to which any questions may be addressed.
In turn, the AMF has created a dedicated welcome programme known as “AGILITY” for financial management and FinTech firms in the UK seeking authorisation from the AMF to act in France, offering a “one stop shop” for obtaining the required authorisation including a special “2WeekTicket” pre-authorisation procedure enabling firms to commence the process of opening offices in France in two weeks. 2WeekTicket: management firms and FinTech companies can produce an authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority and fill out a standardised form from the AMF to receive “pre-authorisation” in two weeks. The notice will certify that the companies are believed to meet the conditions for receiving a definitive authorisation. It will allow them to get a head start on the work of opening new offices, such as searching for a suitable location. The authorisation giving access to the European passport will be issued two months later, provided of course that the applicant meets all of the requirements.
The above procedures do not apply to credit institutions, which are subject to authorisation by the European Central Bank.