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MEP wants FSA trumpets silenced

The Treasury and the FSA have been singing each other&#39s praises over ach-ievements in Europe for far too long, says Liberal Dem-ocrat MEP Chris Huhne.

The representative for the South-east region says he thinks there is far too much trumpet-blowing from the regulator and the Government.

Huhne says that in terms of implementing regulations, of the group of countries working towards a single market, the UK is in a middle position behind Finland and Denmark.

He says: “I think it is quite astonishing that the Treasury is singing its own praises in terms of achievement on the Financial Ser-vices Action Plan. They were all ready to hand over directives such as the inv-estment services directive in versions that were completely unworkable. The Government let the Ger-mans and Dutch get out of our alliance during the negotiations. It is wrong for them to try and take the credit.”

Huhne is one of four co-ordinators who sit on the economic and mon-etary affairs committee which is responsible for financial services legislation. He has held the post since 1999 and is the only Brit on the panel.

He cites the ISD as an area where amendments by MEPs forced ministers to protect British interests. Although he admits that there are still some significant problems with the legislation, he says MEPs will lobby hard for any difficulties to be revised such as the professional indemnity requirements in the IMD and ISD.

Huhne says: “If the commission applies the ISD in a ham-fisted way, there is always wriggle room. But implementation could be very serious if some changes are not made. If that happens, there will be a real hue and cry.”

He believes the Euro-zone is moving to the stage where countries are growing closer together in terms of regulatory cultures.

He says: “We need to ensure that it is an environment where the FSA remains a natural leader as a senior regulator. We are already building a more regulated environment. In the future, there will be many more businesses working cross-border business within the zone but we do not think need to consider the super-regulator option yet.”

Huhne cites recent negotiations over the prospective directive as another area where MEPs have ensured that a more effective piece of legislation is passed.

He says: “Now business will find it cheaper. That is another example of where liberalising the Par-liament saved the bacon of UK business.”

Huhne believes the Lib-eral group, a loosely aligned group of MEPs, of which he is a member, has been the most effective in the European Parliament at changing legislation.

He says: “We hold the balance between left and right and are the only group that has been united in our views and voted overall the same way throughout this session. The other parties aligned with Labour and the Conservatives are often split.”

Huhne believes the key test will not be whether EU laws are covering the waterfront but whether those laws succeed in establishing the basis for more competition. He says a common agricultural policy for European finance professionals is not what is needed.

He says: “We are moving from a stage of primary legislation towards an imp-lementation phase. The Parliament will be monitoring each state&#39s performance. I will try and arrange a whole series of hearings at which the co-ordinators will see how the rules are working. PII may well be one of the areas that we need to look closely at.”

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