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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 changes proposed by the European Commission to its market abuse and criminal sanctions proposals alone will not improve the way benchmarks are defined and used. EU regulation is necessary to improve the functioning and governance of benchmarks and to ensure 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.

Time line

The Benchmark Regulation (Level 1) entered into force on 30 June 2016. Level 2 consultations are ongoing. The final application of the Regulation will take place on 1 January 2018.

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

ESMA: More Q&As on Benchmark Regulation


The document promotes common and consistent supervisory approaches in the day-to-day application of the Benchmarks Regulation, focussed on the scope and on definitions.

ESMA publishes Q&As on Benchmark Regulation


The set of Q&As is a practical convergence tool used to promote common, uniform and consistent supervisory approaches and practices in the day-to-day application of Benchmark Regulation (BMR).

IOSCO guidance on improved reporting on Benchmarks Principles

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IOSCO issued guidance that seeks to increase the consistency and quality of reporting by Benchmark Administrators on their compliance with the IOSCO Principles for Financial Benchmarks, which were published in July 2013.

EEX Group: European reference prices


EEX Group offers market-based reference prices for major European energy markets: the Physical Electricity Index (Phelix), the European Electricity Index (ELIX), the European Gas Index (EGIX) and the European Carbon Index (ECarbix).

Europex responds to draft technical advice on Benchmark Regulation


In its response to the ESMA consultation on draft technical advice on the Benchmark Regulation, Europex stresses the need to consider special characteristics of particular commodities following seasonal patterns. Concerning the endorsement of third country administrators ESMA should ensure a level playing field for all third country administrators with users within the EU.

STOXX: indices that meet your needs


STOXX calculates more than 7,000 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.

STOXX: Principles for Financial Benchmarks

Market movement

STOXX claims compliance with both the IOSCO Principle for Financial Benchmarks and the ESMA-EBA Principles for Benchmark-Setting Processes in the EU for all STOXX-branded indices. The internationally valid guidelines focus on the methodology, transparency and overall quality of benchmarks as well as on overall governance arrangements and accountability for index providers and other relevant bodies.

ESMA finalises advice on future rules for financial benchmarks

Indices trading

ESMA has finalised its technical advice to the European Commission on important aspects of future rules for benchmarks. The European Commission will prepare the final rules for benchmarks which should enter into force by 1 January 2018.

Legal basis

Find the most recent legal text on this regulation here.