Brown says Europe will lose power in IMF

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Gordon Brown insisted yesterday that Britain would not see its influence within the International Monetary Fund decline under plans to give countries such as China a greater say in the running of the financial watchdog.

But he hinted that members of the eurozone might have to give up their voting share or seats on its executive board to reflect their economic integration.

The IMF agreed at its spring meetings in Washington last month to launch a review of the voting shares held by each of its 184 members, and of the representation on its 24-strong executive board. Currently the US holds 17.4 per cent of the vote, making it the only country with a block on decisions that need an 85 per cent majority. The EU has a collective 44.4 per cent quota.

Critics highlight Belgium that has 2.16 per cent of the vote, compared with China's 2.98 per cent, though Belgium's economy is only one-third the size of China's.

Mr Brown told the Treasury Select Committee: "My own sense is that it is possible to imagine a situation where there's a bigger influence for Asia while at the same time Europe maintains a very considerable amount of its position."