France to water down its plans for capitalism reform

November 4th, 2008 - 8:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Nov 4 (DPA) The French presidency of the European Union (EU) has agreed to water down its proposals on how to reform the global financial system, diplomats said Tuesday.The decision followed two hours of talks among EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels.

Sources familiar with the negotiations said France agreed to make changes to the wish list that the EU intends to present at a Nov 15 global summit in Washington amid complaints from some member states that it was “too detailed”.

France has set out an 11-point plan which it hopes EU leaders will endorse at a special summit in Brussels Friday. That summit is meant to forge a common European position ahead of the G20 meeting of leading economies, in which the EU will be represented by France, Germany, Italy and Britain.

The plan calls for increased transparency in financial markets, the compulsory registration and monitoring of credit rating agencies, and new codes of conduct to deter top managers from taking “excessive” risks.

World leaders should also push for the global harmonization of accounting and bank capitalization rules, closer cooperation between national regulators and “a change of culture in the governance of financial institutions towards sustainable value creation,” the paper says.

One bone of contention was understood to be France’s insistence that no financial institution, market or jurisdiction be left “outside the scope of regulation or oversight”.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels, Austrian Finance Minister Wilhelm Molterer said of the plan: “Some countries might judge one or another detail differently, but the direction is absolutely right.”

His Dutch colleague, Wouter Bos, called the French proposal “a good start.”

The Netherlands have presented their own set of proposals, while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown did the same at an EU summit in October.

On Tuesday, EU finance ministers formally approved a 6.5-billion-euro ($8.2 billion) loan to help Hungary out of its current balance-of-payments difficulties.

Ministers were later set to meet representatives of sovereign wealth funds from Norway, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, and with finance ministers from Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

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