MEPs demand voice in securities reform

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Series Details Vol 7, No.12, 22.3.01, p3
Publication Date 22/03/2001
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Date: 22/03/01

By Peter Chapman

EURO MPs are stepping up their demands for the right to oversee planned reforms to the Union's securities markets.

EU finance ministers meet this evening (22 March) to agree on a statement before the weekend's summit in Stockholm setting out their conditions for accepting the proposals.

A group of wise men headed by former Belgian central banker Baron Alexandre Lamfalussy has suggested setting up a special committee of unelected regulators to hone the binding legislation needed to set harmonised EU rules. MEPs are worried they may be shut out of the procedure.

German socialist Christa Randzio-Plath said she feared the Council of Ministers would try to increase its own regulatory powers at the expense of parliamentarians.

"I am anxious that the Council thinks about safeguarding the position of the Council. This we can't accept. There has to be an equal part [for the Parliament]," said Randzio-Plath, chairman of the assembly's influential economic and monetary committee.

The system proposed by Lamfalussy is governed by special EU rules on the 'comitology' committee processes approved in 1999, which critics claim lead to undemocratic closed-door meetings that deny MEPs and the public the right to have a say.

Randzio-Plath said governments and Euro MPs must find a solution that gives the Parliament oversight powers, even if a "call-back" plan envisaged last week by the assembly is deemed unacceptable because it would require a re-write of these rules.

"Call-back was already a compromise," she said. "But there are different options. You could amend procedure on comitology or there could be formal commitments [on oversight] made by the institutions. A lot of creativity is possible."

British conservative Theresa Villiers, who also sits on the economic and monetary committee, added that any agreement at Stockholm that did not give Euro MPs a proper say over the Lamfalussy reforms "would not be worth the paper it was printed on". She added that the expected 'Council resolution' had to be "something that they can sell to the Parliament".

A bad deal in Stockholm, she added, could stop the urgently needed reforms getting off the launch pad. "For Lamfalussy to work it has to have the agreement of the Commission and the Parliament as well," she said.

Ironically all sides of the debate have already signalled their support for the goals of Lamfalussy and his team.

Under their blueprint the Union would have a fully-functioning regime governing securities markets by the end of 2003, ending the hotch-potch approach to regulating financial markets that has hampered the Union's bid to overtake the US in the world competitiveness stakes.

Euro MPs are stepping up their demands for the right to oversee planned reforms to the Union's securities markets.

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