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Comment: McCreevy leads from the front

In a resolute move, the European Commission has adopted a set of measures to strengthen the supervisory framework for EU financial markets in order to improve supervisory co-operation and convergence between member states and to reinforce financial stability.

Under the new rules, the Commission says, the three committees of EU regulators for the securities, banking, and insurance and pension sectors will benefit from a clearer operational framework and more efficient decision-making processes.

The move bears all the hallmarks of Charlie McCreevy, the internal market and services commissioner, who has proved very much his own man during his term in Brussels and has shown a welcome resistance to calls for the EU to clamp down on popular scapegoats for the ills of the financial markets such as hedge fund managers and private equity firms.

His initiative to strengthen the existing framework for regulatory co-operation within the EU will be watched closely to see whether it presages a deepening of the Commission's role in the continent's financial regulation.

The Commission also says that the committees of regulators, as well as other bodies involved in the standard-setting process for financial reporting and auditing at both European and international level, should receive financial support from the EU budget to help them achieve their objectives as rapidly and efficiently as possible.

McCreevy's proposal will now pass to the European Council and European Parliament for consideration, and with tighter regulation throughout the financial industry now regarded as a near-certainty, it is likely to receive swift approval. So far, so good - but what comes next?

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