David Prosser: EU threat to Lloyds jobs

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The Independent Online

Outlook The unions are understandably cross about the latest round of job cuts announced by Lloyds TSB. But if they want to avoid further big culls at the bank, someone had better have a word with Neelie Kroes, the European Union's competition commissioner.

Ms Kroes arrived at yesterday's British Bankers Association annual conference in London with an uncompromising message from Brussels. It does not intend to let British banks maintain market leading positions that would have been forsaken had it not been for the generous help extended to the sector by the UK taxpayer. Other banks in Europe have not had such help, Ms Kroes pointed out.

For anyone who didn't quite get the picture, Ms Kroes spelt it out. "The likelihood of significant divestments by RBS and Lloyds is strong," she warned.

Those disposals, with all the risks to bank workers' jobs they will carry, may come sooner rather than later. The Commission is already in negotiations with the UK about how it marries the support given to banks with European Union rules on state aid. The Treasury is under pressure to come to a deal on the future of banks owned partly by taxpayers by the end of the summer. Not much time for union lobbying, then.