Leaseurope Policy Latest: 27 April 2021
In this issue, we provide an overview of our activities related to insolvency law, the Data Services Act, securitisation rules and smart and sustainable mobility.
HARMONISING INSOLVENCY LAW WOULD PRESENT CHALLENGES
Leaseurope has recently responded to the European Commission’s consultation on enhancing convergence between national insolvency laws. The Commission is essentially considering extending the scope of the existing Insolvency Directive, which only applies to entrepreneurs and SMEs, to include larger businesses. In our response, we highlight that we do not support this scope extension and note that differences in national insolvency laws often exist for valid reasons, such as national variation in the process surrounding insolvency. We also note that ignoring these realities could ultimately have a detrimental impact on the availability of leasing products, since removing the ability of leasing companies to reclaim an asset if the lessee is unable to maintain payments will inevitably make leasing to those with lower credit ratings less viable. You can find more info here.
DIGITAL SERVICES ACT DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH ON RANKING TRANSPARENCY
Leaseurope recently sent feedback to the European Commission regarding the Digital Services Act proposal. In our response, we recognised the role online platforms play in preventing disinformation and we support the proposal’s goal of ensuring customers are provided with accurate information. In particular, a distinction needs to be made between the platform the customer is using to find a good or service (like an online comparison platform) and the company that is providing that good or service. We argue that codes of conduct should be made obligatory for very large platforms and we regret that the current measures on search ranking transparency are not legally binding. Such guidelines are not enough to enable consumers to understand when they are being made recommendations on the basis of the platforms’ commercial interests with a provider rather than objective ranking criteria. You can read our full submission on the European Commission’s website here.
REVISED SECURITISATION RULES TO SUPPORT POST-COVID CRISIS RECEVERY PUBLISHED IN THE EU OFFICIAL JOURNAL
Leaseurope previously worked extensively with our Securitisation Working Group to form a set of industry requests for the European Commission, with the aim of helping leasing companies free-up capital and continue financing European businesses and households. New securitisation rules recently published in the Official Journal reflect a number of these requests. The new regulations give synthetic balance sheet securitisations access to the status of simple, transparent and standardised (STS), which was previously only available for true sale securitisations. Additionally, the approval of a prudential regulatory capital discount for non-performing loan (NPL) securitisations gives the right incentive to support leasing companies in freeing-up their balance sheets from non-performing exposures, which can be expected to grow as a result of the current crisis.
These synthetic STS and improved NPL securitisation rules have already come into force. The rules on the treatment of synthetic excess spread will not come into force until April 2022, as regulatory technical standards (RTS) still have to be developed by the EBA for this purpose.
LEASEUROPE DISCUSSES MOBILITY WITH MEP ERTUG
The European Parliament has published its draft report on sustainable and smart mobility strategy by Rapporteur Mr Ismail Ertug. The report calls on the Commission and member states to support mobility transformation through the Next Generation EU recovery package and to aim for higher numbers of zero-emission light- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2030, as well as more stringent CO2 and air-pollutant emission standards. It calls on the Commission to propose binding targets for public charging points and hydrogen refuelling stations, requesting the Directive for the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure to be transformed into a regulation. The report notes that the shift towards sustainable and smart mobility requires the sharing of data and proper data-integration between all relevant stakeholders.
Leaseurope had the opportunity to intervene at a private hearing with MEP Ertug on the Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy. We underlined the role our industry played in providing essential mobility services throughout the EU during the pandemic, supporting key medical and social services (including mobile vaccine services). Lessors also helped to keep commerce moving during the crisis, notably as companies (including many SMEs) needed mobility solutions to move to online and delivery models to sustain their businesses. We stressed that Leaseurope’s members are well placed to facilitate electric vehicle uptake and that comprehensive public charging infrastructure coverage is a necessary condition. At the same time, we asked for much greater emphasis to be placed on modal integration (MaaS solutions) and on mobility that supports rural, urban and cross-border journeys. We finally pointed out that the common denominator to making these mobility ambitions realistic is access to in-vehicle data and that the operation of electrified fleets simply cannot work without real-time direct data access. Leaseurope is also submitting written amendments to Ertug’s proposal addressing key industry priorities.
EU UPDATES & INDUSTRY TRENDS
SUSTAINABILITY PACKAGE ISSUED, INCLUDING MEASURES ON CORPORATE REPORTING
The European Commission has issued a package of measures focused on sustainability, including the first two delegated acts accompanying the taxonomy on sustainable activities. These delegated acts cover two of the criteria set out in the taxonomy for an activity to be deemed “green”, namely climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation. This publication follows a considerable response from stakeholders to the draft delegated acts at the end of last year, which resulted in the final publication being postponed. Notably, the press release accompanying the delegated acts states that they are intended to be a “living document”, subject to changes in line with scientific/technological developments. The vast majority of references to leasing and rental are still related to mobility, as was the case with the drafts.
The package of measures also includes a new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), and six amendments to delegated acts on investment and insurance advice, fiduciary duties, and product oversight and governance. The CSRD aims to put the importance of sustainability reporting on the same level as financial reporting. You can find out more information about the package of measures here.
DRAFT REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR AI IDENTIFIES APPLICATION IN CREDIT DECISIONS AS "HIGH RISK"
The European Commission’s highly anticipated new regulatory framework for AI has recently been issued. The proposal sets out strict rules on the use of AI, covering a range of different activities including self-driving cars and other areas deemed “high risk”, including the provision of credit. For these “high risk” applications of AI, it will be mandatory that they meet certain requirements before they are able to be used on the market. For example, there will have to be adequate systems in place to assess and mitigate the risks in question, the data being fed into these systems will need to be of high quality to reduce the likelihood of discriminatory results, and appropriate human oversight will need to be ensured. Moreover, clear and accurate information must be provided to the user, and these AI systems must have a high degree of robustness, security, and accuracy. The proposal also outlines the creation of a European Artificial Intelligence Board, which will be responsible for facilitating the development of standards for AI. You can find out more information here.
COMMISSIONER BRETON EXCHANGES VIEWS ON CRISIS PLANNING, DIGITALISATION AND GREEN TRANSITION WITH PARLIAMENT
The Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament recently held an exchange of views with Commissioner Breton, which focused on a green, digital and more resilient EU. The Commissioner insisted on the need for long-lasting solutions and a legal framework to cope with future crises, a sort of emergency tool for the economic market so that free movement of people and goods, as well as availability of essential products and services, can be ensured. He stressed that EU dependency on other continents (e.g. mask crisis in 2020) and the vulnerabilities of some sectors (e.g. semiconductors, automotive) need to be addressed. He highlighted that SMEs and start-ups which went through a harsh crisis will receive support. On speeding up the digital transformation, he pointed out that it is key to put in place the right regulatory tools, KPIs, research & development and financing. Mr Breton explained that the green transition will be promoted through different industrial ecosystems and that the Commission is setting a new industrial policy by identifying the existing barriers, the right transitional pathways and the right level of funding for each sector with the help of key stakeholders, including Leaseurope.
PARLIAMENT TACKLES TOURISM AND TRAVEL SECTORS RESTART
Last month, MEPs adopted the resolution on an EU strategy for sustainable tourism, urging EU countries to include the tourism and travel sectors in their recovery plans and to consider temporarily reducing VAT on these services. The European Parliament is calling on member states to fully implement common criteria for safe travel without delay, including an EU Health and Safety protocol for testing before departure, with quarantine requirements to be applied only as a last resort. MEPs support the idea of a common vaccination certificate following privacy and data protection rules, which should facilitate travel. The resolution also urges the Commission to introduce an EU hygiene certification seal, which could certify minimum COVID-19 virus prevention and control standards.
In the meantime, the European Commission has put forward a proposal for a regulation on a 'digital green certificate' allowing for safe and free movement of EU citizens during the pandemic. The certificate would provide proof that the person has been vaccinated, give results of Covid-19 tests and/or information on the acquisition of antibodies. The European Parliament decided to accelerate work on the Commission’s proposal, using the urgent procedure. MEPs are expected to adopt their mandate for negotiations with the Council, which may include amendments, in the plenary session from 26-29 April.The European Tourism Manifesto Alliance representing over 60 travel and tourism organisations, of which Leaseurope is a member, has also strongly welcomed the proposal, and called for a concrete EU roadmap for loosening and lifting current travel restrictions.
PROVISIONAL AGREEMENT ON THE EUROPEAN CLIMATE LAW REACHED
The European Council and Parliament reached a provisional political agreement setting into law the objective of a climate-neutral EU by 2050, and a collective, net greenhouse gas emissions reduction target (emissions after deduction of removals) of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. With this agreement, the EU sends a strong signal to the world - right ahead of US President Joe Biden’s Climate Summit on 22 April - and paves the way for the Commission to propose its "fit-for-55" climate package in June. The provisional agreement includes the establishment of a European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, composed of 15 senior scientific experts of different nationalities, tasked with providing scientific advice and reporting on EU measures, climate targets and indicative greenhouse gas budgets and their coherence with the European climate law and the EU's international commitments under the Paris Agreement. The negotiators agreed that the Commission would propose an intermediate climate target for 2040, if appropriate, at the latest within six months after the first global stock-take exercise carried out under the Paris Agreement. The provisional political agreement is subject to approval by the Council and Parliament, before going through the formal steps of the adoption procedure. You can read more here.
PARLIAMENT WANTS DATA GOVERNANCE ACT TO IMPROVE DATA ACCESS FOR SMES
The European Parliament has published its draft report on the Data Governance Act by Rapporteur Angelika Niebler. The first change brought to the Commission’s proposal is the replacement of the definition of “data sharing providers” with the expression “data intermediaries”. The report adds that a previous SME panel consultation on data sharing found that 40% of SMEs struggle to access the data they need to develop data-driven products and services, underscoring the need to lower the barriers to a data-driven economy. Therefore, the Rapporteur proposes that public sector bodies also make data available at a discounted fee or free of charge, in particular for SMEs. The report reduces the period for exclusive data arrangements from 3 years to 12 months, with the possibility for a further 12-month extension, and introduces a requirement for data intermediaries to include data analysis or aggregation tools to improve usability. The Rapporteur proposes that a data innovation advisory council be established to advise the Board, consisting of relevant representatives from industry, research bodies, standardisation organisations and other relevant stakeholders. The report also suggests that the Commission establish a European searchable electronic register of data available in national single information points, including info on how to request data. Providers of cloud services remain excluded in the current draft report, which also now excludes platforms developed in the context of objects and devices connected to the Internet-of-Things.
EBA POINTS TO RISING SHARE OF LOANS WITH A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN CREDIT RISK
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has published its Risk Dashboard for the fourth quarter of 2020. The data shows a rise in capital ratios, a smaller rise in risk weighted assets, a contraction of the NPL ratio and a return on equity (RoE) significantly below cost of equity for European banks. Loans under EBA eligible moratoria nearly halved in Q4 compared to Q3, with liquidity further improving. Profitability remains subdued and pressure on this metric is expected to remain high going forward. Besides asset quality and profitability, operational risks remain a key concern going forward. For instance, phishing attempts and other types of cyber-attacks are becoming more common. Read more here.
EDPB GUIDELINES ON CONNECTED VEHICLES AND MOBILITY RELATED APPLICATIONS
The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has issued final Guidelines on connected vehicles and mobility related applications. The Guidelines address a range of issues that Leaseurope highlighted in our response to the draft last year, including the processing of location data and how users are able to control data use. In particular, the it highlights how data that relates to a vehicle, such as location, distance covered and wear and tear, may also be used to identify, directly or indirectly, the driver, therefore suggesting that “vehicle manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and automotive suppliers, car repairers, automobile dealerships, vehicle service providers, fleet managers, motor insurance companies, entertainment providers, telecommunication operators, road infrastructure managers and public authorities” should secure prior consent from drivers for collecting data. The Guidelines also stress the importance of users being able to withdraw their consent as easily as it is given and note that a lack of control over an individual’s data is more likely in instances where a vehicle has more than one owner (so where it is re-sold or leased for example). The Guidelines also stipulate that: “Employers providing company cars to members of their staff might want to monitor their employee’s actions”. In fact, fleets will generally have a ‘legitimate interest’ for processing personal data from a telematics system such as tracking fuel use to combat fraud, monitoring mileages to comply with lease contracts, and analysing driver behaviour (such as speed, harsh acceleration and braking) as part of a health and safety programme. Already in 2017, the European Commission issued an opinion directly addressing the issue of data processing from fleet vehicles, recommending that where the private use of company cars or vans is allowed, the driver should be able to turn off location tracking.
You can find the final Guidelines here and read more here.
MVBER CONSULTATION RESPONDENTS GENERALLY SUPPORTIVE
The European Commission has published feedback received from stakeholders during its public consultation on the review of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER). Overall, the responses show a consensus that the MVBER rules have met their objectives and created legal certainty, however the competitive landscape of the automotive sector can be further strengthened. In particular, views are split as to whether competition for repair and maintenance services for motor vehicles has increased since 2010. For example, many respondents (including Leaseurope) referred to the need to address access to in-vehicle-data and to the fact that access to technical information is unsatisfactory. A significant number of respondents encountered restrictions on independent operators’ access to technical information as well as misuse of warranties. At the same time, the most anticompetitive examples do not seem to be widespread. While it is too early to draw conclusions, we expect the European Commission will renew the MVBER and accompanying guidelines, while taking the opportunity to simplify and fine-tune the current regime, notably in light of market developments over the last decade.
FLEETEUROPE FLEET WEEK
From 26-30 April, FleetEurope is hosting the first Fleet Week of 2021, with a focus on commercial fleets. Through 5 daily webinars, you will have the opportunity to learn from experts, peers and suppliers on how to manage, maintain and implement an integrated commercial fleets strategy. You can register once and attend all five webinars here.
GROWING YOUR BUSINESS IN A POST-COVID WORLD
On 6 May, International Asset Finance will host a webinar addressing post-Covid themes for leasing including individual customer preferences from traditional to fully-digital, the role of new business models and how to adapt to the changes they bring to the market, and the impact of subscription and mobility as a service on the auto finance business. You can register here.
POLITICO AI SUMMIT 2021
On 31 May, Politico’s 4th AI Summit will take place online. High-level speakers will discuss the European Commission’s legislative plans on AI, protecting consumers and monitoring issues around data protection and algorithm use, international cooperation and digital sovereignty. You can register here.
SMART MOBILITY CONFERENCE
On 10 June, Smart Mobility from Fleet Europe and Frost & Sullivan join forces to organise the first Smart Mobility Conference. This is the first international event focused on corporate mobility and brings together the entire corporate mobility ecosystem. You can register for free here.
THE FUTURE CITY
From 15-16 June, Forum Europe is hosting an online conference to discuss the role that European cities can play in the twin transitions towards climate neutrality and digital leadership. Topics include: the role of tech and data for a human-centric and green digital transformation of the city; the computing power, connectivity, and infrastructure needed for sustainable and resilient smart cities; and energy system integration to lower emissions in the circular city. You can register here.
On 12 March the Connected Vehicle Working Group met via conference call
On 18 March the Joint Automotive Steering Group and Car Leasing Working Group met via conference call
On 23 March the Car Rental Working Group met via conference call
On 23 March the Prudential Supervision Committee met via conference call
On 21 April the Prudential Supervision Committee met via conference call