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Post BNP, EU Wants Equivalence on Banks With U.S., Barnier Says

EU Fin. Services Chief Michel Barnier
European Union financial services chief Michel Barnier said the EU should create a common financial prosecutor's office so that the bloc can "speak with a voice as strong as that of the Americans." Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

The European Union wants regulator “equivalence” with the U.S. on financial matters, EU financial services chief Michel Barnier said, flagging the matter as a key issue for trans-Atlantic trade talks.

“What we can’t accept is extra-territorial” actions by the U.S., Barnier said in an interview at the Cercle des Economistes conference in Aix-en-Provence, France. “What we want is equivalence. It’s a matter of common sense.”

The remarks coincide with a French push to deal with the ability of the U.S. to regulate outside its borders. BNP Paribas SA, France’s biggest bank, was slapped with a $8.97 billion fine by U.S. authorities last week for transactions carried out in dollars with countries facing American sanctions.

The European Union should also create a common financial prosecutor’s office so that the bloc can “speak with a voice as strong as that of the Americans,” Barnier said.

Earlier, French Financial Minister Michel Sapin sought to address the issue of the reach of U.S. laws outside its borders because global markets from oil to aircraft are denominated in U.S. dollars.

‘Dollar Imperialism’

While not an attempt to fight off “dollar imperialism,” the use of the euro needs to be promoted as a matter of “global balance,” Sapin said in a Bloomberg TV interview. The euro group of finance ministers will discuss euro use at a meeting of finance ministers tomorrow in Brussels, Sapin said.

For Barnier, financial regulation needs to be incorporated into free trade negotiations currently being held between the U.S. and Europe in order to create a “level playing field.” A current particular point of tension is rules on treatment of derivatives and their clearing houses, he said.

“I would like the regulatory processes and the inter-interoperability of our rules to be written into the trans-Atlantic trade treaty,” he said. “We cannot trade, cannot increase trade, if we don’t have financial rules that are inter-operable.”

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