EU Seeks to Lighten Burdens of Smaller Lenders

European commissioner doesn't want to burden smaller lenders "with the same requirements we need for bigger, riskier ones.”
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 26, 2015

European Commissioner Jonathan Hill Thursday outlined the new direction the EU commission plans to take, including diverging from global banking regulations when necessary to avoid overburdening smaller lenders.

“Nothing is bigger than the priority of jobs and growth,” Hill said Thursday in prepared remarks to the 13th Annual EU Financial Services Conference. “And with 24 million Europeans out of work, I think we need to have a real sense of urgency,” listing the commission’s recent launch of a 315 billion euro investment plan, pressing ahead with free trade agreements like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the pending launch of a “major new drive on the single market” – in energy, digital services, and Hill’s own area of capital markets.

The commission is also bringing “a new approach to regulation,” and this year will be bringing forward only one-fifth of the amount of new legislation as in a typical year in previous commissions. The new approach is based on the idea that fewer, less burdensome regulations would jumpstart the economy.

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“The speed of the recovery is slower than we would like,” he said. “And if the greatest threat to financial stability in the past was the financial crisis, now I believe it is the lack of jobs and growth. That is why, like the commission as a whole, I will think about what I do through that prism.”

The commission particularly wants to make sure that legislation is proportionate and takes into account different business models — “I don’t want to burden smaller, lower risk institutions with the same requirements we need for bigger, riskier ones.”

A Reuters article said on Thursday said that global banking regulators have previously scolded the EU for not wholesale adopting the internationally agreed Basel III capital rules. Now global regulators are finalizing another rule to force the world’s top 30 banks to issue bonds that can be written down if the lender gets into trouble.

“Hill said he will first check whether the final detail of the global plans are ‘coherent’ with a similar requirement the EU has already passed into law,” Reuters wrote. “Brussels has argued that it needs to tailor Basel rules because they are being applied to several thousand lenders in Europe while other parts of the world, such as the United States, apply them only to their biggest banks.”

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