LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union should hit the pause button on new bank rules ahead of Britain’s departure from the bloc, senior bank executives said on Tuesday.
The EU is fine-tuning a mass of rules introduced to make banks safer after the financial crisis that began nearly a decade ago. But Brexit will remove London, the Europe’s biggest financial center, from the bloc, creating uncertainty over the status of regulations and future trading terms.
And in the United States, President Donald Trump wants some of the existing banking rules dropped, saying they hinder economic growth.
“We cannot ignore the growing fragmentation of the international regulatory landscape in light of recent political changes notably in the U.S. The perspective of the Brexit adds ... to that trend,” Frederic Oudea, chair of the European Banking Federation, and chief executive of SocGen (SOGN.PA), said.
Oudea, speaking on a panel of bank industry officials and experts, also said the EU should avoid adopting rules that have not been agreed at the global level.
“This topic is particularly important at a time where we need to think strategically about the direction we want to take for capital market activities in Europe in light of Brexit consequences,” Oudea told the European Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee.
He urged policymakers to postpone capital rules for bank trading books until their global implementation is clearer.
“We need a regulatory pause,” said Karl-Peter Schackmann-Fallis, a German Savings Banks Association board member.
The Economic Affairs Committee has oversight of financial rulemaking in the European Parliament, which has joint say with member states on approving the EU’s laws.
Andreas Treichl, chief executive of Austria’s Erste Group (ERST.VI), said he was spending most of his time with politicians and 10 regulators, rather than with customers.
“It’s great what you do, just finish it. I don’t care any more how you finish it. I will accept whatever you decide, but get it done and don’t change it for the next 10 years please,” Treichl told the committee.
“Please reflect on what you have done. It’s very, very difficult for us to be helpful to create prosperity, and part of the reason is ourselves, and part of the reason is you, the politicians, and part of the reason is the regulators.”
But Miguel Viegas, a member of the European Parliament and a committee member, said the financial crisis was caused by speculative behavior that cost taxpayers billions of euros.
“It’s a bit worrying to hear that we are the guilty parties,” Viegas said, referring to Treichl’s comments.
Christian Stiefmueller, a senior policy analyst at Finance Watch, a Brussels think tank, said bank capital had still not been restored to consistently safe levels.
“Bank regulation is not slowing down the economy,” Stiefmueller said.
Brexit will also mean the region’s biggest capital markets will not be inside the EU, potentially complicating companies attempts to raise money.
Treichl said the European economy depended on debt, but only two countries had a capital market, Switzerland and Britain, the former is already outside the bloc and the latter is due to leave.
“Who do you think will finance start-ups? The capital market is not there, the private investors are not there, and banks increasingly face difficulties in doing it,” Treichl said.
Reporting by Huw Jones. Editing by Jane Merriman