* Finance ministers to have talks on bonus curbs this week
* Proposal to limit total bonus at between 3 and 5 times
* Britain set to oppose strict limits on earnings
By John O'Donnell
BRUSSELS, Nov 11 European Union countries will
consider a proposal this week for an absolute cap on the total
bonus paid to bankers, EU officials said on Sunday, a reform
Britain is unlikely to support.
The idea to cap total bonus payouts, including share
options, at between three and five times salary, will be
discussed at a meeting of EU diplomats and lawmakers on Monday
alongside a suggestion to limit just the cash bonus bankers
receive to the level of their salary, one of the officials said.
A cap would represent the most radical clamp down yet on
banker pay in Europe. It would, however, be politically
difficult to push through such a reform if Britain, as expected,
Its finance minister, George Osborne, who wants to protect
London's position as Europe's top financial centre, has said he
would fight any bonus caps from Brussels.
Policymakers worldwide have made little progress in limiting
pay for an industry that caused a financial crisis in 2008,
forcing bank bailouts by taxpayers.
An automatic cap of three times salary would be applied
under the proposal to be discussed on Monday although a bank's
owners could loosen this limit. "Shareholders could decide to go
for five times," said the official.
A second official said: "There should be a final push so
that there is a political agreement at the meeting of finance
ministers on December 4," adding that changes to any cap were
The proposal is being tabled by officials from Cyprus, who
hold the rotating presidency of the European Union and are
leading preparations ahead of a meeting of the bloc's finance
ministers on Tuesday.
Banks have also lobbied against the change, saying the cap
could strip them of talented staff. Current EU rules already
force banks to defer up to half the bonus for at least three
The EU has tougher bank pay curbs than guidelines laid out
by the Group of 20 top global nations but some countries such as
Germany want further reform.
The European Parliament, which also has a say in setting
rules, wants the total of all elements of a bonus to be no more
than basic salary, a step too far for some countries.
The cap is one element in a package of rules that implement
a global accord, known as Basel III, requiring lenders to triple
the amount of basic capital they must hold to weather shocks
unaided by taxpayers.