EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier criticized Washington for its “unilateral” push for tougher banking regulation, saying the proposed Volcker Rule would have a broad effect around the world.
Barnier, who oversees the finance industry in Europe, said Washington needed to consult other countries before finalizing the Volcker rule, which would place tough restrictions on the trading activities of both US and foreign banks that operate in the United States.
“It would not be acceptable that US rules that have such a wide effect on other nations and foreign capital markets be implemented without any international coordination,” he told journalists after meeting with US officials.
“National rules can have serious effects abroad. That is why I am concerned about the proposed implementation of the Volcker rule,” he said.
“A unilateral approach is a path to fragmentation and inefficiency,” he added.
The rule, named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and part of sweeping post-crisis reforms, has come under widespread attack from foreign governments and financial regulators, as well as banks.
The rule, currently being weighed by US regulators, will forbid banks from actively trading their own accounts to boost profits — the so-called proprietary trade.
But foreign governments fear it would place excessive restrictions on foreign banks operating even outside the country.
It would also effectively dry up liquidity in the markets for non-US sovereign bonds, they say.
In a letter to top US finance officials and regulators earlier this month Barnier complained that the Volcker rule made an unfair exception for proprietary trade in US bonds.
“The absence of an exemption for non-US bonds would have a negative impact on the liquidity of non-US sovereign markets,” he said.
“This impact would be even more significant if the rule were to apply to foreign banks beyond their territorial presence in the United States.”