Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Tuesday, 15 January 2013

MEPs scrutinise deal to regulate ratings agencies

A compromise agreement on the regulation of credit rating agencies (CRAs) has split the European Parliament, during its debate on 15 January 2013.

CRAs are private-sector firms - often based in the US - that assign credit ratings for issuers of debt, which can be companies or countries.

The agencies have been blamed by some MEPs for exacerbating the eurozone crisis, by slashing investor confidence in the economic stability of countries such as Greece and Spain.

Following lengthy talks between the parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission, a deal has been reached to tighten the controls on when CRAs can publish their ratings of sovereign debt levels.

A credit rating takes into account the debt issuer's ability to pay back its loan.

Portuguese communist MEP Marisa Matias said she hoped tougher regulation would end the "vicious circle" where a negative credit rating leads to worsening confidence in a country leading to an even worse rating.

The European Parliament originally pushed for a total ban on "unsolicited" ratings, but under a compromise agreement, CRAs will have to provide a justification for publishing a credit rating for a sovereign state.

New laws will also limit the stakes that investors can have in rating agencies, so as to ensure their independence.

However Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom warned that the rules were "an attack on free speech," claiming that the EU was trying to "crush the ratings agencies with regulation."

"I predict this will castrate the ratings agencies to protect the chastity of the euro, which was born out of wedlock," he concluded.

The vote on the agreement will take place during the voting session from 11am on 16 January 2013.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

SEE ALSO

Story Tools

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific