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EU reaches deal to cap banker bonuses

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The European Union has reached a deal to cap bankers' bonuses, which critics say played a major role in driving the financial crisis, officials said on Thursday.

The deal was struck early on Thursday, with the European Parliament and the EU's current Irish presidency agreeing on how to implement new rules for the banking sector.

"For the first time in the history of EU financial market regulation, we will cap bankers' bonuses," said MEP Othmar Karas, the negotiator for the parliament.

The new regulatory framework is known as Basel III, an internationally-agreed set of rules which tighten up bank capital requirements.

The negotiations on Basel III implementation in the EU have dragged on for some 10 months, in part because of the European Parliament's desire to peg back banker bonuses which critics blame for helping drive the speculative approach in the lead-up to the 2008 global financial crisis.

Basel III was supposed to have been implemented from January this year but the timetable has slipped, with the United States announcing in November that it too would not make the deadline.

The accord reached overnight will now go forward to EU finance ministers when they meet next week in Brussels.

Kras said the provisions on banker bonuses were "not the most important part of the new rules," the key point being the new capital regulations for the banks.

"The essence is that from 2014, European banks will have to set aside more money to be more stable and concentrate on their core business, namely financing the real economy, that of small- and medium-sized enterprises and jobs."

Basel III notably requires the banks to build up their capital buffers and reserves so that they will be better able to withstand any new crisis.

Full details of the EU accord will be released at a press conference in the European Parliament later on Thursday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130228/eu-reaches-deal-cap-banker-bonuses