EU to okay bank rules before election slows legislative machine

Written by Reuters | London | Updated: Apr 15 2014, 08:14am hrs
The European Union will sign off on a slew of major reforms this week to allow failing banks to be wound down without public money, clearing its desk before elections in May that may lead to a slower pace of legislation.

This week is the final plenary session of the European Parliament before it breaks up ahead of the vote in May.

The welter of rules the bloc has approved since the worst financial crisis in a generation began unfolding from a corner of the US housing market in 2007 is fundamentally reshaping the banking and securities industry.

The rule changes also strengthen the bloc's grip on capital markets at the expense of national governments to an extent few federalists would have dared to dream of, as policymakers want to avoid more taxpayer bailouts of banks and euro zone countries.

From November, the European Central Bank will directly supervise top lenders in the single currency area, adding to three new EU regulators for banks, insurers and markets launched in 2011 with binding powers over member states.

On Tuesday the European Parliament will approve two major reforms to make it easier and quicker to close failing banks so they don't collapse messily or require taxpayer money. It will also rubber-stamp a sweeping reform of securities markets that will draw commodities under the regulatory net for the first time, and crack down on high frequency trading, a type of ultra fast computerised trading the FBI is probing.

In the meantime, the banking sector will keep an eye on whether Britain, which is challenging some EU rules in the bloc's top court, succeeds in the coming months in drawing a line under further centralization, let alone in rowing back on measures already approved.