Could I make a suggestion? In the interest of Europe’s financial markets, the European Commission should consider putting a Brit at the head of its group of ‘wise men’ charged with mulling ways to insulate traditional retail lenders from riskier investment banking (“Barnier plans committee to discuss breaking up banks”, 24-30 November).
This would make sense in terms of the City of London’s role as a financial centre and of developments in the UK banking sector, particularly the Vickers report, which could be usefully fed into EU thinking. It would also counter any view that the EU is out to ‘get’ the City. Such a move would also allow the UK to re-engage constructively with the EU, which in turn could address a more fundamental problem: a looming shift of balance between member states.
As someone from the Netherlands, a country geographically and often ideologically in between the EU’s three biggest member states, and as a former negotiator – at the Dutch permanent representation – in talks on financial regulation, I am concerned by the tone and direction of the current legislative discussions.
In recent years, and as proven by the UK’s use of its veto last week, the UK has become more isolated in the EU. Contrary to various claims, no single country or person is to blame. The EU is 27 member states, so nothing happens without the support of a sufficient majority. Countries that have been sympathetic towards the UK are now less so, because of a perception that it wants to enjoy internal-market freedoms without accepting pan-EU supervision of banks.
The City of London is an asset for Europe. Brussels would therefore benefit from the UK’s expertise when developing financial-market policy. By putting a Brit at the head of this new banking group, the Commission would demonstrate that it recognises this.
Head of financial-services practice, FTI Consulting
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