Looming euro-battles could mean massive rows

  • 19 January 2012
  • From the section UK Politics
  • comments

A couple of interesting euro-battles are looming on the horizon: the long-expected wrangle over banking regulation and another over the EU Commission's desire to regulate offshore oil and gas extraction.

Financial specialists in the Commons have long been concerned about the move to require that clearing houses which have more than 5% of their turnover in Euros should be located in the euro-zone. This would have a huge impact on the City of London and is viewed by quite modestly euro-sceptic MPs as a quite naked attempt to seize business from Britain.

And Britain may not have the ability to veto it - it could be passed under the EU's Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) procedure. At which point there would be a massive row in Parliament and beyond.

The second issue has had a rather lower profile. Alarmed by the ecological disaster which followed the Deepwater Horizon explosion off the US coast last year, the EU Commission wants to extend its powers over the running of oil and gas rigs in European waters, suggesting a tough EU-run licensing regime is needed to guarantee proper safety standards. The British government retorts that it has been overseeing the safety of North Sea oil and gas for decades, and had done an effective job.

And in the Commons European Scrutiny Committee there is concern that the Commission is seeking to regulate and already well-regulated UK industry.

Under Bill Cash, the committee has regularly flagged up politically significant EU documents for further discussion by MPs, sometimes on the floor of the Commons, and sometimes in special committees.

This proposal will be discussed in committee fairly soon - and more may be heard of it after that.

Around the BBC