France’s appointee as European Union (EU) internal market commissioner could
face tough questioning this Wednesday appearing before a panel of MEPs at the
European Parliament in Brussels.
The nomination of Michel Barnier, a close ally of French president Nicolas
Sarkozy, has raised criticism in the UK especially, over fears that he could
burden The City of London and its financial institutions with red tape.
British MEPs favouring the liberalisation approach of the outgoing
commissioner Charlie McCreevy will find little to comfort them in a detailed
policy statement released to the parliament by Barnier, and may grill him
Stressing the dislocation caused by the recent finance-inspired recession, he
said he would “present a report on governance in financial establishments which
will contain proposals for remedying the weaknesses revealed by the crisis.” He
signalled tougher action on financial services pay, planning a report “as soon
as possible” plus “other initiatives intended to eradicate abusive remuneration
practices”. He would do the same regarding directors’ payments.
On accounting matters, Barnier unveiled an ambitious agenda. He said a report
on the operation of the EU’s transparency directive on listed companies would be
published quickly “possibly followed by amendment proposals”.
He said he wanted to “improve the governance of the International Accounting
Standards Board (IASB) significantly”. Also, he said he would stray into
international affairs by pushing the “adoption by all of our partners, including
the United States, of high-quality global accounting standards”, following last
year’s G20 recommendations.
Barnier promised to propose EU legislation on harmonising small and
medium-sized business accounting rules. And regarding statutory audits, he said:
“My priorities will be to enhance international cooperation to enable mutual
recognition of supervisory systems in respect of directors, and potential
adoption of international accounting standards.”
If confirmed in his job by MEPs, Barnier should assume office on 1 February.
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