David Prosser: A rare success for the PM

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The Independent Online

Outlook: For now, at least, Gordon Brown appears to have fought off those in Europe who seek to exert greater control over regulation of the City of London.

The Prime Minister may have accepted an upgrade of three EU-wide advisory committees on banking, insurance and securities regulation to full-blown watchdog status, but he has also secured the crucial right for the UK to ignore any decisions made by the committees if they have any sort of fiscal implications. Brussels would not be able to force Britain to bail out an ailing bank, say.

Nor will the PM be worried about losing the argument over who should chair a new body on systemic risk. He had wanted the chair to revolve among member states, but it will instead remain in the gift of members of the European Central Bank. Crucially, however, the systemic risk council won't have any more powers to impose its views on Britain than the other new supervisory bodies the EU is now committed to.

For Europhobes and conspiracy theorists, the suspicion remains that EU reforms of financial regulation are little more than a cunning French plan to pinch some of the market dominance that London's financial services industry has always enjoyed. They may even be right, but if so, President Sarkozy is going to have do better than this.

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