Europe imposes its men on City

Three virtually unknown men took the most important jobs in European financial regulation yesterday, causing consternation in the City.

In the latest snub to Britain’s sovereignty, the European Union appointed career policymakers from Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands as chairmen of its three “super-regulators” covering the EU’s markets, banks and insurers.

Disappointed City sources warned the exclusion of British finance experts from the regulators’ boards could lead to punitive regulation being imposed without consultation.

“The concern among people in London is that not one of the board of the European Banking Authority (EBA) is British, despite France, Germany and other states being represented,” said one industry source.

“Given that the UK is the pre-eminent financial services centre in Europe, it is strange that there is nobody from here on the board.”

Tom Huertas, banking director at the Financial Services Authority, has been named as alternate EBA chairman to fill the role until the chairman officially starts work.

One lobbyist expressed frustration at a “Franco-German stitch-up”.

“People will suspect that it is a sop to smaller countries but it’s a bit of a Franco-German stitch up and neither Italy or Portugal are renowned for their financial regulation,” he told City A.M.

The overarching banking regulator will be headed by Andrea Enria, head of the Bank of Italy’s supervisory regulations team and a fierce advocate of more centrally-controlled financial regulation.

The capital markets regulator, the Paris-based European Securities and Markets Authority, will be led by Steven Maijoor, who spent 22 years as an economics professor at Maastricht University but has never worked in the private sector.

And Gabriel Bernardino, an architect of the stringent new Solvency II capital requirements, and currently a department head at Portuguese regulator ISP, will head the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority based in Frankfurt.

The three “super-regulators”, established on 1 January, will have powers to agree rules binding on all banks, exchanges, insurers, investment firms, hedge funds, credit rating agencies and mutual funds in the 27-country EU. Rob McIvor, a director at the Association for Capital Markets in Europe, said it was good news that the appointments had been announced so quickly.