MEP and chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee Sharon Bowles has called on the financial services sector to stop being negative about European regulation or risk being marginalised.
Speaking at a Centre Reform fringe meeting on financial regulation at the Liberal Democrat autumn conference in Brighton yesterday, Bowles said the industry needs to stop being negative about Europe and appearing to oppose every regulation.
She said: “The industry needs to stop being negative about Europe. It seems like we do not want regulation and it plays very badly on the other side of the channel. They think we are saying we want to do our own thing when actually it is much more sensible.
“The City is actually quite pro-Europe if you take the top level, the sensible level, but it is perceived as very anti-EU. It is up to the sensible side to make the loudest noise in our newspapers.
“How many City bosses have actually come forward and put their name in print? They sneak in and tell people privately but they will not be positive about Europe because they think it is not on the Conservative agenda and not helpful to other lobbying.”
Bowles says the creation of a eurozone banking union represents a crucial moment for Britain’s membership of the EU, with many countries expecting Britain to leave.
She said: “European ministers from other countries are not taking any notice of the UK because they think it is on the way out. I am immersed in it and from this side it does not look that we are all powerful and leading the way. We have a lot of expertise and Europe always relies on it but we are at a really crucial time for our long-term survival within the EU.”
Bowles said negotiations over MIfid II are proving “very difficult”, but she still expects the UK to be allowed to keep its commission ban as it enters trialogue.
Last September, a leaked draft report of Mifid II revealed there was no ban on commission for restrcted advisers under the directive. If implemented, the FSA would need an exemption to ensure a total commission ban under the RDR.
In July, the European parliament rejected a Europe-wide commission ban and voted for tougher disclosure instead but concerns remain that the UK may be over-ruled. The FSA believes it will be allowed to ban commission with negotiations set to enter trialogue.
Last night, Bowles said: “It is very difficult to break into the commission models that are much more strongly embedded in continental Europe than they are here. We are having a go and will be having another go in PRIPs negotiations.
“We are trying to move in the direction of allowing a UK commission ban but it is actually very difficult. The European Commission wanted to follow what the UK had done and we were leading Europe.
“It thought it was a good idea but now we are getting the pushback. However I do not think it is going to interfere with the RDR.”