Wednesday, 2 September 2009
Business, Brussels and Boris
Today has been one of those Brussels business days when suddenly everything happens at once. It was the first major meetings of the "committees" of the new parliament. My own committee, "Economic and Monetary Affairs", has had a packed agenda - discussing need for a global regulation of financial markets with US Congressmen, setting the agenda priorities for the months ahead and opening the debate on the first major piece of legislation to hit the desk (The Alternative Investment Fund Management Directive.
In the midst of this I was able to welcome Boris to Brussels. Hotfoot from the Eurostar the Mayor of London arrived to make sure that every possible parliamentarian understands the implications that the plethora of financial services legislation passing through Brussels would have, not just on the City of London but actually on UK and European businesses trying to raise capital and on the pensions or future savings of our voters back at home.
In the parliament it is often tempting to make sweeping statements for headlines but with so much of this legislation the devil is in the detail. In the back of my mind today I have been thinking about some of the companies back at home that I have been able to meet over recent months. Companies in inovative industries like hi-tech, software, bio-tech. Businesses that (if we get it right) will be the drivers of new economic growth, jobs and prosperity. If we get it wrong, these inovations will either not happen or happen overseas. Little tiny details in the single directive that we discussed today could make it much, much more difficult for those companies to access the capital they need to survive let alone grow. Putting our real economy at a global competitive disadvantage is not a decision that should be taken lightly.
Of course we need regulation of financial services but it must be better regulation - Over the past few weeks working with my colleague Kay Swinburne MEP I have been given many example of how "little" details in the vast wadges of legislation would have unintended consequences not just in the City of London but in the real economy too. Boris helped make those points today. It has been helpful to hear others from across the political spectrum make similar points.
A busy day, on the whole a good day, but its early days...