European Union finance ministers, meeting in Brussels on Friday, failed to agree on a common approach to taxing banks and the problem of how credit rating agencies calculate their ratings.
Most of them agree on the need for some sort of levy on the financial industry, but no consensus emerged on how the money raised should be used – whether or not it should go into a special financial crisis emergency fund.
The 27 ministers also remain divided about how to force firms to disclose their reasons for changing a country’s debt rating.
Chairing the meeting, the Belgian Finance Minister, Didier Reynders, said it is important that ratings are accurate, timely and transparent.
He told reporters: “We want to go to more transparency, to more responsibility in the rating agencies, and the functioning of the rating agencies for the future.”
Financial markets get very rattled when a country’s credit rating is downgraded; as happened with Greece, sparking a crisis over the viability of the euro.
Rating agencies already have to follow an EU code of conduct and the idea of fining them for inappropriately harsh decisions was discussed by the ministers but not adopted.