Britain’s Osborne hits out as EU bank capital talks stall
Britain’s George Osborne accused fellow EU finance ministers of trying to water down Europe’s bank capital rules and said this would make him “look like an idiot”, as talks about a law to stop another financial crisis unraveled in Brussels.
In remarks at the negotiating table, Osborne, who says he wants much tougher controls to avoid a repeat of the current crisis, fumed that regulation being discussed could dent the credibility of Europe and harm London, its top financial centre.
“I am not prepared to go out there and say something that is going to make me look like an idiot five minutes later,” Osborne said, referring to potential loopholes allowing some banks to sidestep new capital standards agreed by global regulators.
His remarks were relayed on television to watching journalists.
Even after 15 hours of talks, European Union ministers were unable to agree in the early hours of Thursday, although Denmark’s Economy Minister Margrethe Vestager said she hoped there would be a deal at the next meeting in Brussels on May 15.
Five months after British Prime Minister David Cameron angered EU partners by vetoing an EU fiscal treaty, a visibly agitated Osborne told the ministers’ meeting: “I am not asking for some UK carve out … I will not be painted as somehow anti-European, demanding something especially for London.”
Michel Barnier, the EU commissioner in charge of financial regulation, accused Osborne of seeking an opt-out with a proposal that would let Britain impose higher capital ratios on its banks than elsewhere in Europe – something France and others fear could disadvantage continental institutions.
“London is a very important centre but… there are other centers alongside London which also merit consideration,” said Barnier, a former French government minister.
Osborne, however, was adamant. “People will listen to what I say … I represent the largest financial centre in Europe. Read More