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Is “Brussels” preventing the UK from introducing tougher capital requirements for banks?

December 22nd, 2011

Letter to the Editor of The Daily Telegraph, sent on 22nd Decmber 2011


You reported on 20 December 2011 that “Brussels has demanded that key banking regulations are set centrally” but that Brussels itself “is proving an obstacle to reducing systemic risk”.

Let me put the record straight. “Brussels” has not demanded anything. All EU national leaders called in 2009 for “a European single rule book applicable to all financial institutions in the single market.” They realised that many banks had been poorly managed, regulated and supervised.

One important chapter of the single rule book concerns implementing international agreements known as Basel III, setting capital requirements for banks. How and when individual countries can raise those requirements is now being debated in the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. But contrary to many reports, the Commission’s proposal allows considerable flexibility for national supervisors on this.

We understand that London has the largest financial sector in the EU and we want UK supervisors to be able to do their job properly. This is a time for rational debate about the discretions needed at national level in a single market with a single rule book, not for simplistic stories setting “Brussels” against “London and “the City”.

Yours faithfully

Olivier Guersent

Head of Cabinet of Michel Barnier
European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services

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2 Responses to “Is “Brussels” preventing the UK from introducing tougher capital requirements for banks?”

  1. mediumwhite says:

    Hey, just started reading this. Thanks for putting it up. Really someone is countering the crap we get in the UK press.
    Might be better off an EU site though.
    It would be really great if someone who knows how it all works would start a personal blog confronting all the euromyths that are published in the UK… a bit like Ben Goldacre did with Bad Science.

  2. markenglish says:

    Many thanks for your message. In fact, there are a number of sites which aim to correct media inaccuracies, on all subjects, not just the EU. One of the best known is For our part, we try to place rebuttals of the most misleading stories at – an archive dating back nearly two decades can be found there – and in many cases we write to the media concerned requesting them to publish our letter  – they quite often do – or to print a correction (that is less frequent). More rarely, we take cases to the Press Complaints Commission. We also draw the attention of other journalists to errors in the media, by using mail outs to all newsdesks and through Twitter from @EUlondonRep and @EULondonMark.

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