ESMA sets cyber risk as new strategic priority

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU's financial markets regulator and supervisor, is changing its Union Strategic Supervisory Priorities (USSPs) to focus on cyber risk and digital resilience alongside ESG disclosures.

In a statement on 9 November, the financial regulator said EU supervisors will put greater emphasis on reinforcing firms' ICT risk management through close monitoring and supervisory actions, building new supervisory capacity and expertise.

The aim is to keep pace with market and technological developments, and closely monitor potential contagion effects of attacks and disruptions across markets and firms.

The new USSP will come into force in 2025, at the same time as the Digital Operational Resilience Act - DORA. This timeline is intended to provide supervisors and firms in Member States with sufficient time to prepare for compliance with the new regulatory requirements.

Meanwhile, ESMA and national competent authorities (NCAs) will carry out preparatory work planning and shaping the supervisory activities to undertake under this priority.

In addition, ESMA and NCAs will continue their work on the second priority - ESG disclosures.

The aim is to tackle greenwashing, increase investors understanding and embed sustainability requirements when firms advise investors. ESG disclosures will remain the focus in 2024 across key segments of the sustainable finance value chain such as issuers, investment managers and investment firms.

The new USSP on cyber risk and digital resilience will replace the USSP on market data quality. ESMA and NCAs have carried out intensive and concerted supervisory efforts to make structural, long-lasting improvements in this area.

Notably, ESMA said it had:

  • built common data quality methodologies and data sharing frameworks; and
  • worked on the detection of supervisory issues, carried out investigations and developed supervisory tools to extract further intelligence from the data reported.

"Ensuring data quality remains a primary duty of supervised entities.  Firms, and in particular their top management, should take ownership of the data they report and increase its use also for internal purposes. EU supervisors will continue to undertake important supervisory work on data quality, leveraging on the new methodologies and tools developed through the USSP. Paying close attention to this topic remains fundamental in building a data-driven supervisory approach, a key strategic objective under the ESMA Strategy."

ESMA further said the USSPs were an important tool through which ESMA coordinated and focused supervisory action with NCAs across the EU on specific topics.

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