WASHINGTON — The head of the international Basel Committee on Banking Supervision underscored the importance of international consistency in banking standards in comments Wednesday before the European Parliament.
Basel Committee Secretary General William Coen told European lawmakers that it is critically important that world leaders adhere to a common set of banking standards given the calamitous fallout from the financial crisis. An inconsistent international framework would only breed uncertainty, and the committee is working diligently to ensure that all concerns about the breadth and cost of the final rules are considered.
"Banks, investors and other stakeholders need clarity and certainty when it comes to the global standards for bank regulatory capital," Coen said.
"We have consulted on various proposals to modify the global framework and have conducted an extensive quantitative impact study to assess the impact of the proposed revisions," Coen continued. "Our careful review of comments on our proposals and our analysis of the results from our impact assessment allow us to proceed in a measured and deliberate way so that the minimum requirements agreed by the Committee can help ensure more resilient banks and banking systems."
Coen added that signatories to the Basel III accords have the discretion to decide which banks are subject to those international standards — indeed, in the United States and Japan, only the largest banks are subject to those laws, while in the EU all banks must adhere to the standards.
"The manner in which the agreed standards are applied is at the discretion of members," Coen said. "Some have chosen to apply the rules to just the largest, internationally active banks in their countries. This includes the United States and Japan, for example. Others, like the European Union, have elected to apply the rules to all banks."
Coen's remarks come amid heightened tension between the EU and the Basel committee. Last month a top EU official said that the Continent would not adhere to the final Basel rules amid concerns that they would stifle growth in the flagging European economy. Coen himself suggested last week that the committee would not back down from its stated goals of consistency and sound financial standards for international banking organizations.