Bloomberg News

Finland’s Liikanen to Lead EU Group on Bank ‘Structural Reforms’

January 16, 2012

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- European Central Bank council member Erkki Liikanen will lead a group of experts examining whether banks should build firewalls to protect taxpayers and customers when failure of one part of a lender threatens to cascade throughout the company.

Liikanen, governor of the Finnish central bank, will take the helm of the group investigating whether “structural reforms” of banks bolster financial stability and improve efficiency and consumer protection, the European Commission, which set up the body, said today.

“I expect this group to make all the recommendations as regards the structure of EU banks it deems necessary to strengthen financial stability,” Michel Barnier, the EU’s financial services chief, said in an e-mailed statement. Barnier has said there will be “no taboo” topics for the group, which starts next month.

A U.K. government-sponsored panel chaired by John Vickers recommended in September that banks insulate consumer units from investment banking to increase stability in the financial system. The proposals may cost the industry as much 7 billion pounds ($10.7 billion) and should be implemented by the government in 2019, the panel said.

The EU group will examine ideas such as those put forward by the Vickers commission as well as a U.S. proposal championed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to bar commercial banks from engaging in trading solely for their own profit, Barnier has said.

Liikanen’s career has included two mandates as a member of the Brussels-based commission between 1995 and 2004. He’s also a former finance minister of Finland.

The group will finish its work in the middle of the year, the commission said.

--Editors: Peter Chapman, Anthony Aarons

To contact the reporters on this story: Jim Brunsden in Brussels at jbrunsden@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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