European finance ministers have delayed plans to vote on a controversial new directive regulating hedge funds and venture capital investment.
The issue was taken off Tuesday's agenda in Brussels because more time was needed to reach a consensus.
London-based fund managers have said the proposals will make it impossible for funds based outside the EU to raise funds within Europe.
And the US government has also argued the plans are protectionist.
US Treasury chief Timothy Geithner complained last week that the draft directive could hurt US hedge funds, private equity groups and banks by restricting their opportunities to do business with Europe.
BBC Europe business reporter Nigel Cassidy said that continental proponents of the directive, notably France, might have felt it unwise to push the directive through on a majority vote, in the run-up to a UK election.
A spokeswoman for the EU's Spanish presidency said hedge funds were "off the agenda to allow more time for us to obtain the maximum level of support possible".
"It will come back in during a later meeting of finance ministers during the Spanish presidency," she added.
Critics of the proposed changes say that, if approved, the laws would see many funds flee London to Switzerland or elsewhere outside the EU.