EU to clinch supervision deal by September: Germany

The European Union is expected to clinch a deal on a sweeping reform of how banks, insurers and markets are supervised by September at the latest, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Tuesday.

The reform is deadlocked due to disagreement between EU governments and the European Parliament over how much power the three new pan-EU authorities will have to intervene in a country that is not following European financial rules properly.

"I am actually confident that if we don't reach an agreement with the parliament today, then we will reach one over the course of the summer by September," Schaeuble told reporters on his way into a meeting of EU finance ministers.

Negotiations between government representatives and parliament officials brought no breakthrough on Monday evening.

There could be more negotiations on Tuesday after the ministers grant Belgium, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, wider negotiating instructions. The executive European Commission is also involved in the talks.

"I think the presidency can pick up the negotiations again today in the trilogue with a new mandate. There are fewer points of contention now," Schaeuble said.

Many countries and lawmakers would like parliament to pass laws on the new supervision architecture in September so they can take effect in January next year.

The EU assembly is pushing for a more centralized approach to supervising the financial sector.

British Opposition

Britain is leading a coalition of countries that do not want the new authorities to have powers to intervene directly in a country's banks and override a domestic regulator.

"There are still fundamental questions to clarify, the discussion is not over yet, there are certainly different positions but in my view it should be possible with good will and it is necessary," Austrian Finance Minister Josef Proell said.

Schaeuble, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and their British counterpart George Osborne on Monday discussed at length concessions that could be offered to parliament.

"We identified a number of options that will be presented by the Belgian presidency in order to have a new mandate for negotiations that will enable them to get back to the (parliament's) rapporteurs and see how we can find a way forward," Lagarde told reporters.

The bloc is anxious to show it can keep up with the United States in meeting pledges they both made at the global level to apply lessons from the financial crisis speedily.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law a broad regulatory reform later this month that includes changes to supervision.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said on Monday that negotiations on the supervisory package were in the "final straits" -- a change of tone from earlier in the month, when he spoke of a deal being weeks away.

Barnier insisted the new supervisory authorities be "credible and effective."

[Source: By Marcin Grajewski and Sarah Marsh, Reuters, Brussels, 13Jul10]

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