Speaking at a City of London event at the Guildhall today, EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier called on the City to play ‘the European game’ in a wide-ranging speech on the commission’s agenda for financial services.

London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis warned that the commissioner’s presumption that financial services is a European – rather than a global – game summarises perfectly the problem that the City faces.

Commissioner Barnier compared the importance of the UK’s financial sector to the importance of the German chemical industry or the French food sector. He also said that he opposed the UK’s request to have the ability to halt potentially damaging financial regulation from the EU.

Despite technically not being part of his remit, the commissioner also reiterated his support for a Financial Transaction Tax, but accepted that it would not be ‘imposed’ on the UK against its will.

Responding to the speech, London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis said:

“Michel Barnier is mistaken if he thinks that the City of London needs to play the European Game. After all, it’s not Europe’s game to play.

“The business of international finance can be undertaken anywhere in the world, a fact that would be self-evident if an EU financial transaction tax (FTT) were to be forced on the City.

“The FTT would lead to massive relocation bringing with it thousands of job losses in my constituency of London. The Commission’s own statistics reveal that the FTT would put a €220 billion dent in the EU’s long-term growth along with a 90% decline in derivatives trading.”

Full speech: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/12/23&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&