February 22, 2012 / 5:46 PM / 8 years ago

EU banks expert group to consider UK, U.S. curbs

LONDON (Reuters) - The expert group set up by the European Union’s executive to see how banks could be made safer will study whether scale and activity limits planned by Britain and the United States should be applied across the 27-nation bloc.

“The group should pay particular attention to ongoing structural reforms, i.e. regarding activity restrictions (Volcker Rule), size limits (Dodd-Frank Act) and/or structural separation of certain activities (UK Independent Commission on Banking),” the European Commission said in a statement on Wednesday.

It had already announced the group would be chaired by Bank of Finland Governor Erkki Liikanen and on Wednesday named the other members. It will report by the end of the summer after conducting hearings and consultations.

“The group is requested to consider in depth whether there is a need for structural reforms of the EU banking sector or not and to make any relevant proposals as appropriate, with the objective of establishing a safe, stable and efficient banking system serving the needs of citizens, the EU economy and the internal market,” the statement said.

Recommendations should take into account factors like promoting competition, reduce the risks each bank poses to the wider financial system and reducing the risks posed by the system overall.

The EU decided against copying the U.S. Volcker Rule on banning proprietary trading at banks when it was first proposed.

Countries like Germany and France have also signalled opposition in the past to breaking up their universal banks, which house deposit-taking and investment-banking arms under one roof.

Britain’s Independent Commission on Banking has recommended that deposit-taking arms be ringfenced with extra capital cushions, a step the government will implement by 2019.

Banks are also having to pick their way through the euro zone debt crisis and a welter of regulation such as tougher capital requirements.

The European Commission named the following as members of the high-level group: Jose Manuel Campa, a finance professor from Spain; Louis Gallois, the French chief executive of European aerospace group EADS; Monique Goyens of Belgium, who is director general of pan-EU consumer group BEUC; Jan Pieter Krahnen of Germany, a finance professor; Alessandro Profumo of Italy, former chief executive of UniCredit bank; Carol Sergeant, former chief risk officer at Lloyds Banking Group; Zdenek Tuma, a director at accountants KPMG and former governor of the Czech central bank; and Herman Wijffels, a professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Reporting by Huw Jones

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