ESMA is an independent EU Authority that contributes to safeguarding the stability of the European Union's financial system by ensuring the integrity, transparency, efficiency and orderly functioning of securities markets, as well as enhancing investor protection. In particular, ESMA fosters supervisory convergence both amongst securities regulators, and across financial sectors by working closely with the other European Supervisory Authorities competent in the field of banking (EBA), and insurance and occupational pensions (EIOPA).

ESMA's work on securities legislation contributes to the development of a single rule book in Europe. This serves two purposes; firstly, it ensures the consistent treatment of investors across the Union, enabling an adequate level of protection of investors through effective regulation and supervision. Secondly, it promotes equal conditions of competition for financial service providers, as well as ensuring the effectiveness and cost efficiency of supervision for supervised companies. As part of its role in standard setting and reducing the scope of regulatory arbitrage, ESMA strengthens international supervisory co-operation. Where requested in European law, ESMA undertakes the supervision of certain entities with pan-European reach.
Finally, ESMA also contributes to the financial stability of the European Union, in the short, medium and long-term, through its contribution to the work of the European Systemic Risk Board, which identifies potential risks to the financial system and provides advice to diminish possible threats to the financial stability of the Union. ESMA is also responsible for coordinating actions of securities supervisors or adopting emergency measures when a crisis situation arises.
Whilst ESMA is independent, there is full accountability towards the European Parliament where it will appear before the relevant Committee known as ECON, at their request for formal hearings. Full accountability towards the Council of the European Union and European Commission also exists. The Authority will therefore report on its activities regularly at meetings but also through an Annual Report.

How ESMA works

The Committee of Wise Men, chaired by Baron Alexandre Lamfalussy, outlined in its report of 15 February 2001 several shortcomings in the legislative system for securities and proposed a four level approach as well as the creation of CESR, ESMA's predecessor which was given a role as a technical advisory committee. The creation of ESMA as an EU Authority on 1 January 2011 through the ESMA Regulation, has resulted in some changes regarding how the four level legislative procedure and these are described below.
Level 1 Directives and regulations, continue to set out the high level political objectives on the area concerned by the legislation. Occasionally, at this early stage, ESMA may be asked for technical advice by the Commission as it develops its legislative proposal.
However, ESMA has been given a greater role in Level 2 in drafting what can be considered as subordinate acts (known as delegated acts and implementing acts). Delegated acts are concerned more with the substantive content of the legislative requirement, for example setting out what authorisation information firms must provide to competent authorities, whilst implementing acts are similar to executive measures giving effect to the substantive requirements, this might include for example, standard forms, templates and procedures for communicating information or processes between competent authorities.
At Level 3, ESMA will develop guidelines and recommendations with a view to establishing consistent, efficient and effective supervisory practices within the European System of Financial Supervision, and to ensure the common, uniform and consistent application of Union Law. The guidelines and recommendations are addressed to competent authorities or financial market participants. Whilst not legally binding, these have been strengthened under ESMA and competent authorities must now make every effort to comply and must explain if they do not intend to comply. Financial market participants can also be required to report publically whether they comply. ESMA will also take other steps under Level 3 to ensure supervisory convergence and these are identified in the diagram below.
At Level 4, a fast track procedure has been introduced by the Regulation establishing ESMA.
On this basis, ESMA now has a new role. At the request of a national competent authority, the European Parliament, Council, Commission or the Stakeholder Group, ESMA can be requested to launch an enquiry and can issue a recommendation addressed to the national authority, within two months of launching its investigation. ESMA will also be able to launch investigations on its own initiative. The Commission will also be able to follow its usual procedures for referring a case against the Member State to the Court of Justice.

ESMA's consultation practices

ESMA, its standing committees and networks work in an open and transparent manner, and consult extensively, and at an early stage, with market participants, consumers and end-users.  Further details are set out in the Public statement on Consultation practices, published in the founding texts section.  In addition, a Securities and Markets Stakeholders Group has been established to advise ESMA on working priorities and assess developments in the Single Market in the field of Financial Services.

Not relevant, see Services

Steven MAIJOOR, Chair of ESMA

Steven Maijoor is the Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).  He took up office on 1 April 2011 and is the first chair of the authority and has been appointed for a term of 5 years.  He is responsible for chairing ESMA’s Board of Supervisors and Management Board.
Prior to taking up this role, Steven was Managing Director at the AFM, the Dutch financial markets regulator, where he was responsible for, amongst other areas, overseeing the integrity of financial markets, financial reporting and auditing, and prospectuses and public offerings.  In his regulatory role Steven has held a number of international positions, including the Chairmanship of IFIAR (International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators).
Before joining the AFM, Steven was the Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University, and had pursued a long career in academia which included a variety of positions at Maastricht University and the University of Southern California.
He holds a PhD in Business Economics on the regulation of financial reporting from Maastricht University, and is currently a Professor at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.
His calendar, including meetings with external stakeholders, can be found under Key dates.
A large photograph for use by journalists is available in the photo library.

Verena ROSS, Executive Director

Verena Ross is the Executive Director of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). She was appointed to the role in March 2011 and joined ESMA on 1 June 2011. She is the first Executive Director of the organisation and forms part of the senior management team along with the Chair of ESMA. The Executive Director has responsibility for the day-to-day running of the organisation.
Prior to this, Verena held a number of senior posts in the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA), with her final position being Director of the International Division from October 2009 to May 2011. Verena was also a member of the FSA's Executive Committee and the Executive Policy and Risk Committees.
Verena joined the FSA in 1998 to run the Executive Chairman’s office during the regulator’s start-up phase, and was briefly a seconded advisor to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission in 2000. She subsequently held various positions in the Markets Division and was Director the Strategy & Risk Division before becoming Director of the International Division. 
She began her career at the Bank of England in 1994, where she worked as an economist and then banking supervisor, following studies in Hamburg, Taipei and London (SOAS).
Her calendar, including meetings with external stakeholders, can be found under Key dates.
A large photograph for use by journalists is available in the photo library.

Carlos TAVARES, Vice Chair

Carlos Tavares chaired CESR from July to December 2010 and served as Vice-Chairman from February 2009. He has been Chairman of the Comissao do Mercado de Valores Mobiliarios (the CMVM) since October 2005. Before joining the CMVM, Mr Tavares was the head of the Bureau of European policy Advisers to the President of the European Commission, after having been Minister of Economy in the government of José Manuel Barroso. Prior to this, Mr Tavares has occupied a number of governmental positions, such as Member of the EEC Monetary Committee, Secretary of State for the Treasury, member of the EC Economic Policies Coordination Group and Director of the Research Department of the Ministry of Finance. In his professional life, Mr Tavares has held a number of positions within financial institutions, and has also academic experience as a teaching assistant in the field of econometrics and macroeconomics. Mr Tavares studied economics at Oporto University.