Bank bonuses need to show ‘moderation’, EU official urges

20 January 2011

European banks need to show restraint when setting bonuses, the European Commissioner for banking has urged.

Michel Barnier called for financial institutions within the European Union (EU) to act “morally” when deciding on how much to pay executives, Reuters reported.

The commissioner, who was quoted by the news provider, said: "I would call for moderation and responsibility. We have ten per cent unemployment in the US and Europe ... people are suffering."

"Banks have an obligation and responsibility ... banks need morality or ethics,” he added.

Financial institutions need to empathise with the wider economic climate, especially when EU states are implementing austerity measures to reduce public spending, Mr Barnier continued.

His comments followed a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels to discuss the future of the financial services industry.

The size of banker bonuses has been a point of recent debate for politicians, particularly in the UK.

Earlier in the week, the British coalition leader David Cameron said that negotiations between the government and banks over the size of bonus pools were ongoing.

His comments followed a report by the Daily Telegraph claiming that Stephen Hester, chief executive officer at the government-backed Royal Bank of Scotland, was in line to receive a £2.5 million bonus.

By Jim Ottewill

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