The level of standardisation in the over-the-counter derivatives market is “unacceptable”, a senior European Union official warned industry players Thursday night.

EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy described the level of electronic confirmation of trades as “more 1920s than 1990s” and suggested that one way of remedying the situation might be to impose targets and deadlines for more standardisation.

But the commissioner also acknowledged that “maybe others have other suggestions”.

Mr McCreevy was speaking on Thursday night ahead of Friday’s day-long conference in Brussels, which will discuss how risks attached to the OTC market can be reduced. The commission has already outlined some possible measures – including a push for more centralised clearing – but has also been asking for industry views.

He acknowledged that, while there was a “consensus that we should expand the use of central clearing counterparties” in Europe beyond the services now provided by ICE Europe and Eurex in the credit default swaps market, there was less clarity on how to do this.

Mr McCreevy stressed that he did not believe any products should be banned because of the risks they presented. “I am not sure whether banning products is the answer,” he said.

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