The European Commission unveiled new banking rules Wednesday that would force banks to raise more capital and threaten sanctions to prevent risks that could trigger a new financial crisis.
The EU's executive arm unveiled a raft of measures to strenghthen the resilience of the 27-nation bloc's 8,200 banks after many were bailed out during the global financial crisis in 2008.
"We cannot let such a crisis occur again and we cannot allow the actions of a few in the financial world to jeopardize our prosperity," EU internal markets commission Michel Barnier said.
Barnier said Europe will become the world's first jurisdiction to begin implementing the banking sector's global Basel III agreement governing capital and liquidity requirements.
The banks will have to hold "more and better capital" to withstand future financial shocks on their own instead of relying on taxpayer-funded government bailouts, the commission said.
G20 nations, the world's developped and emerging powers, are required to gradually begin applying the Basel III rules on bank capital from 2013.
European lenders, which account for 53 percent of global banking sector assets, will have to triple their core capital ratio, raising 460 billion euros by 2019, Barnier said. They could also do this by setting aside part of their profits.
Brussels wants to go a step further than Basel in its measures, which must be approved by EU governments and the EU parliament.
The commission proposed that EU financial supervisors be given new powers to monitor banks more closely and impose sanctions when they detect higher risk. A regulator could for example force banks to limit credit when a bubble emerges.
The supervisors would have the ability to impose fines amounting to 10 percent of a bank's annual turnover, or temporarily suspend the activities of certain board members, if it fails to respect the new rules.
The Basel rules require banks to hold higher core capital reserves, raising them to the equivalent of 7.0 percent of the loans they give to clients, from a current 2.0 percent.