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EU closes in on banking oversight deal: Borg

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13:19 CET+01:00
Sweden's finance minister Anders Borg said on Wednesday that the EU was closer to a agreeing to a new set of measures for policing banks and financial institutions across national borders.

"There are many red lines in discussions when you start them out, but we are getting closer to a compromise," said Borg, who was chairing Wednesday's talks in Brussels, of moves aimed at preventing repeats of the financial crisis.

However, Borg warned that the meeting would be "long and complicated," with Britain finding the devil in the detail, although his stance was backed by Luxembourg finance minister Luc Frieden, going into the discussions.

"I think that we are very close to a deal and it is for those member states who still have some issues to answer, to see how far they can go," Frieden said.

Three new European Union-wide supervisory authorities are supposed to work in tandem with an over-arching risk detection panel, with powers to order governments to step in where financial institutions threaten system-wide risks.

However, London is refusing to allow its partners in Brussels to make that judgment without the explicit agreement of British supervisory authorities, demanding that a "burden of proof" should fall on accusers.

"It is very important to get the right deal," said a British Treasury official.

"Fiscal sovereignty is really, really important to us -- we are determined to make sure this comes through in the final agreement.

"National governments who have a responsibility to national taxpayers must have the final say."

The current compromise brokered by the bloc's Swedish presidency says if a country rejects a decision, and 'opts out,' that country would need 65 percent backing under qualified majority voting by EU finance ministers to succeed.

"Instead of us getting 65 percent of people to back us, we think they should need to get 65 percent of people to vote us down," the official explained.

"It's a case of reversing the burden of proof."

London also wants decisions where it disagrees, but is faced with 65 percent of partners voting it down, to go to the European Council of heads of governments for adjudication, which essentially requires unanimity.

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