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EU nominee Michel Barnier tries to reassure City

EU Commissioner-designate Michel Barnier
Mr Barnier sought to reassure the City of London

The man set to take charge of the EU's internal market, Michel Barnier, says Europe needs new financial rules - but they will not be dictated by France.

"I'm not going to be taking orders from Paris, London or anywhere else. I can give a cast-iron guarantee," he told Euro MPs in Brussels on Wednesday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy caused some nervousness in the UK by calling Mr Barnier's appointment a "victory".

Mr Barnier is among 26 EU commissioners seeking confirmation from MEPs.

The 59-year-old Frenchman is politically close to President Sarkozy and served previously as a French agriculture minister and foreign minister. He was also EU commissioner for regional policy in 1999-2004.

"We need to turn the page on an era of irresponsibility. We need to put transparency, responsibility and ethics at the heart of the financial system," he said.

Lessons of crisis

Some British commentators have warned that his nomination could usher in excessive Brussels regulation of the City of London, which currently dominates Europe's financial services.

A UK Independence Party (UKIP) MEP, Godfrey Bloom, warned him on Wednesday: "Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg".

Mr Barnier responded: "It is in the interest of the European financial sector and of the British financial sector to be regulated properly and effectively.

"We have to learn the lessons from the crisis and we will do so."

His right-hand man will be Jonathan Faull, a long-standing Commission civil servant from the UK.

Mr Barnier said he was considering reforms to bolster the amount of capital banks are required to keep, to make derivatives trading more transparent and to increase oversight of private equity and hedge funds.

The EU is also working on new rules on bankers' bonuses, to tie them more directly to performance.

Under plans drawn up by the European Commission, three new supervisory authorities will be created to oversee banks, insurers and investment firms.

A separate body, known as the European Systemic Risk Board, is planned to oversee the stability of the European financial system as a whole.



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