Europe plans new rules for ratings agencies

EU commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn speaks at the EU headquarters in Brussels.

Steve Chiotakis: Today, the European Commission will reveal a final plan to rein in the the credit ratings agencies, at least in Europe.

From London, Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports.


Stephen Beard: The Commission feels the world is too dependent on just three big credit rating agencies. It aims to regulate them, and promote competition. The Commission also wants to tackle the apparent conflict of interest with agencies being paid by the companies that they are rating.

But it's in the field of government debt that the Commission is making its most controversial proposal. It wants to be able to ban the rating agencies from downgrading European countries when financial markets are in turmoil.

Daniel Gros is with the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. He says such a ban would be pointless:

Daniel Gros: We know that in Europe the credit worthiness of almost all governments is going down because they have large deficits, high debts and scant growth prospects. No point in shooting the messenger who tells that to the wider investment community.

He says there have been similar calls in the U.S. for a crackdown on the credit rating agencies. But they have so far been rejected as impractical.

In London, I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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