Britain has failed in a last ditch effort to alter EU proposals to cap bankers' salaries from next year. Member states and the European Parliament hammered out a final draft, which London failed to influence.
Britain failed in its eleventh-hour effort on Wednesday to convince other European Union members to amend plans for the limit on bonuses in the banking sector.
Under the terms, bankers' bonuses are to be limited to no more than the equivalent of one year's salary. However, in cases where a bank's shareholders explicitly approve, the bonus could be as much as twice that amount.
Most members of the EU pushed for the legislation to take effect by January 2014.
The bonus cap is included in a broader package of laws governing the financial sector that require all European banks to hold more capital. The package, which also provides for a single banking supervisory system for the EU, is the tool being used to bring European banks in line with internationally agreed banking rules, known as Basel III.
"The Irish presidency has tonight finalized detailed agreement with the European Parliament on new rules on bank capital," said a spokesperson for the rotating EU presidency, currently held by Ireland.
Walkouts and champagne
The British government says the law poses a threat to the attractiveness of London, which is home some 40 percent of the EU's financial services, as a banking center.
The Reuters news agency reported that one British lawmaker walked out of the talks on Wednesday. However, it said, other parliamentarians later applauded the deal and toasted with champagne.
"The parliament withstood the pressure from the British government and did not allow any change to the cap on bonus payments," said Udo Bullmann, a German member of the European Parliament with the Socialists and Democrats grouping.
One official present at the talks, who declined to be named, was reported by Reuters as saying the result was a "sobering experience" for London, which was unable to veto the proposals on its own. "It's the first time the UK was outvoted on financial services," the official said. "There are autopsies being carried out at the UK Treasury."
The legislation must now be sanctioned by member states' legislatures and the full European Parliament.
rc/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)