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01 October 2012

Telegraph: Europe blames UK for the eurozone debt crisis, says MEP Sharon Bowles

ECON chair Sharon Bowles explains why eurozone countries seem dead set on crushing the City - they blame Britain for the eurozone crisis.

Sharon Bowles, MEP and Britain’s most powerful financial politician in Brussels, says we’ve missed the point: Europe blames Britain for the debt crisis. “In their eyes, we are responsible for everything they are suffering”, she says. “The Greek debt levels were their own doing but the situation escalated into a crisis because of the additional sovereign debt and the financial crisis. So the rest of Europe thinks the contamination went into their countries, through the single market, from the UK. That’s the whole point.”

As head of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs committee since 2009, Bowles is closer than anyone to the vast swathes of new financial regulation passing through Brussels. While Angela Merkel & co fight the crisis, Bowles is involved with what she calls “the other half of the game of nudge”: pushing through structural changes that are needed to make the crisis-fighting measures politically acceptable. “With the presidency changing every six months and financial legislation coming in from two silos, there is only one person who is always in the room and it’s me”, she says.

Bowles says the decision was “completely mad” because it also removed Britain’s seat at the negotiating table. She reckons Britain could have secured the protection it sought, if not a specific veto on all new financial regulation, at least a guarantee to keep the EU open to all banks. Now, as feared, the banking union could insist that the eurozone markets are open only to banks headquartered in the eurozone. Bowles says: “If we hadn’t vetoed a treaty protocol change that didn’t affect us anyway, we could have embedded in that change, protection for infrastructure – I believe that was a possibility that was on the table. So we actually blew our protection by crudely asking for too much.”

Full article

© The Telegraph

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