Barnier backs EU finance reform

French politician Michel Barnier has pledged to extend a planned regulatory shake-up to every corner of Europe’s banking industry.

His words came during his turn for a grilling before deputies as he set out to secure the financial services portfolio in the EU’s new Commission.

The position is seen as one of the bloc’s most powerful. Barnier gave a confident performance at the parliamentary hearings: “We are going to reform, we are going to reform. No market, no financial player, no financial product, no territory will be able to escape anymore relevant regulation and effective oversight,” he said.

His comments were closely monitored by Britain which fears a Paris-lead clampdown on what France’s President Sarkozy called “freewheeling Anglo-Saxon capitalism”.

Kamall Syed, Conservative and Reformist MEP explained his concerns: “It’s important that Barnier proves that he is not Sarkozy’s puppet or Sarkozy’s man, that he will be an independent commissioner. We don’t have to agree on everything, we don’t have even to agree on the European Union. But he has to make sure that he is truly a commissioner for a single market, and he will promote single market, even over national interests”.

Barnier is widely seen as a safe pair of hands for the job and his agenda, which includes looking at a new structure for assessing banking bonuses, was welcomed by many.