British MEPs stay at top of Econ committee

The European parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee has voted to keep two British MEPs at the top of the team which helps shape financial regulation emerging from Europe.

Liberal Democrat Sharon Bowles (pictured) will serve another two and a half years as chair of the econ committee, while Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy will stay on as one of four vice-chairs until 2014.

Bowles says: “I am grateful to all colleagues for their support and am sure that we will continue to be an engine for ideas and policy-making as we face the sovereign crisis and the need for growth. On the committee’s agenda this year are some big dossiers, including the latest legislation on capital requirements, Markets in Financial Instruments, market abuse, and economic governance.”

Speaking to Money Marketing before the vote, Bowles acknowledged there had been attempts to “shake her out of her tree” as a result of the UK’s refusal to back moves to instill fiscal discipline within the eurozone.

She says: ’”I take very seriously the responsibilities of Chair and will be at the forefront of efforts to re-engage the UK and put it at the heart of Europe.The City of London is an important financial centre, with expertise drawn from all Member States, and an asset that the EU needs to maximise.”

The committee proposes amendments to proposals put forward by the European Commission. If the parliament backs the amendments, they become the position of the parliament in three way negotiations over the final text of the directive or regulation. Having two Brits at the top of the committee is a boost to UK influence over the shape they finally take.

Lansons director Ralph Jackson says: “It is good the UK still has a vital voice at the heart of Econ’s deliberations, and an experienced one as well. The fragility of the Eurozone is a backdrop to considerable future regulatory change affecting UK financial institutions, so they should be encouraged that the UK still has direct influence on key issues.”

Cicero Consulting Brussels analyst Tim Gieles says: “With Bowles continuing as ECON chair the UK remains in a strong position to exercise influence over EU financial services regulation.”

Hector Sants, who will become chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority, has warned that in future UK regulators would be little more than an enforcement agency for standardised European rules.