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G20 deal will cost Britain global financial power
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Gordon Brown will diminish Britain's international role in global financial institutions by increasing European Union representation, as the price for an agreement at the G20 summit

Joaquin Almunia, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, told The Daily Telegraph that in future the EU would have "one voice" in reformed institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). "For me the most important thing is to have one European voice and position on these bodies," he said.

The Spanish EU commissioner predicted that the Prime Minister would achieve a major success by increasing the IMF's resources to more than $500bn (£353bn) at the summit later this week.

But, Mr Almunia stressed, in return China and other developing countries would demand a "voice and representation" that entail more reforms to allow greater redistribution of IMF quotas and votes. "It is obvious that they are not adequately represented. The governance of the IMF, and other international financial institutions, still reflect, to some extent, the way the world was organised many decades ago," he said.

Currently, European countries are over-represented on the IMF's ruling bodies, a situation that will change as developing economies in Asia and Latin America are given a greater say.

While Britain, France or Germany would not lose their votes or place at the IMF's top table they would, Mr Almunia insisted, be required by the EU to "present the same things and positions".

"A Europe with a consolidated representation will have more influence," he said.

Mr Almunia admitted that some countries, such as Britain, might have to be pushed into merging national votes into a collective EU position during talks on the issue in Brussels this spring. "Some will not adapt to this on their own initiative, they will need to receive pressure," he said.

Another key element of the reforms proposed by Mr Brown will further increase the EU's role on the international financial stage.

Plans to give the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) "formal status" and to extend it from the G7 to G20, will include a "full membership" for the European Commission.

The FSF, a body including central banks, national supervisory authorities and treasury departments, is to be given a powerful new job of improving the functioning of markets and reducing the spread of financial shocks.

Mark Francois, Conservative spokesman on Europe, said he will be tabling questions in the House of Commons to seek urgent answers.

"Losing our independent voice at the IMF to the EU would be a totally unacceptable loss of national sovereignty." he said.

By Bruno Waterfield, in Brussels

Source >
  Telegraph | Mar 31

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