EU leaders push for stricter rules

THE leaders of France, Germany and Britain urged the European Union to present a united front at the coming G-20 summit for stricter international regulation of the financial sector, including better oversight over bonuses.

THE leaders of France, Germany and Britain urged the European Union to present a united front at the coming G-20 summit for stricter international regulation of the financial sector, including better oversight over bonuses.

France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany's Angela Merkel and Britain's Gordon Brown said it was especially important to forge international rules to rein in traders' bonuses, blamed by some observers for helping fuel the financial crisis by encouraging unreasonable risks.

But EU officials would still have to convince the US to get behind any future proposal on the matter.

Recent signs of a return to big bonus payments have worried leaders like Sarkozy, who persuaded French banks last week to change the way they reward traders.

"Our citizens are deeply shocked at the revival of reprehensible practices, despite taxpayers' money having been mobilised to support the financial sector at the height of the crisis," the three leaders said in a joint letter yesterday to the Swedish prime minister, whose country currently holds EU's rotating presidency.

"The abatement of financial tensions has led some financial institutions to imagine they can return to the same modes of action prevalent before the crisis. This is not an option."

The leaders said a "strong common message" from the EU's 27 member countries will be crucial for the success of the G-20 summit to be held in Pittsburgh on September 24 and 25.

At a meeting in of EU finance ministers on Wednesday in Brussels, officials from across the bloc appeared to fall in line behind the push for capping bonuses.

"We're able to rally the majority of Europeans ... we still have to convince on the other side of the Atlantic," French finance minister Christine Lagarde told French business leaders at their annual post-holiday meeting outside Paris. - Sapa-AP

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