POLITICS

George Osborne Spent Over £127,000 Of Your Money Protecting Bankers From The EU

13/06/2014 12:29 BST | Updated 13/06/2014 15:59 BST
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CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 5: Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, poses with a newly minted one pound coin during a visit to the Royal Mint on March 5, 2011 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. The Conservative Party is in Wales for it's annual spring forum. (Photo by Toby Melville - WPA Pool/GEtty Images)

George Osborne has spent over £127,000 trying to fight off a series of European regulations that it believes would hit the City of London, The Huffington Post UK can reveal.

After a Freedom of Information request, the Treasury revealed that it has spent £65,909 on fighting an attempt by Brussels regulators to ban short-selling of financial products in emergencies, which was thrown out by judges in April.

The UK government also spent £41,669 suing the European Central Bank for allegedly discriminating against UK clearing houses with a policy that would force those dealing with large euro-based transactions to move within the eurozone.

The new legal costs, piled on top of the £20,289.60 spent on fighting an EU cap on bankers' bonuses, brings the total bill to £127,867.60.

In response to the revelations, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, told HuffPost UK: “Taxpayers have already seen trillions used to prop up a financial sector whose recklessness crashed the economy and has caused years of cuts in services and wage stagnation.

“People won’t be impressed that the government is throwing good money after bad, spending even more cash to defend unrepentant city fat cats from sensible and prudent European regulation. Far from locking the stable door after the financial horse has bolted, George Osborne is spending our money keeping the locksmiths at bay.”

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato said: "The huge sums that Osborne is spending on legal fees to protect the financiers is further evidence of the way the government is running the country in the interest of a tiny elite minority rather than for the common good.

"Like a range of other banking activities, short-selling would not pass the social usefulness test that the Green Party has set to determine whether financial activities should be permitted and so we are entirely supportive of the ban."

The Treasury's other legal challenge, a fight against the financial transaction tax, better known as the "Robin Hood Tax", have not met with success, after being thrown out by the European Court of Justice in April.

Osborne's spokesman said in April that the government would challenge the ECJ's decision, saying: "We are confident we will be able to get an outcome which would protect the single market and non-participating member states."

Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: "Regardless of the outcome of the court’s judgement, the UK government is absolutely right to fight for an effective fiscal policy that maintains a level playing field for all EU member states, including both those inside and outside the Eurozone bloc. The UK’s economic recovery should not be stalled by a £3.6bn tax on British household savings.”

The UK government has repeatedly fought EU legislation affecting the financial sector in the courts, like the power for the European Securities and Markets Authority to limit or ban short-selling, under the principle of stopping EU institutions from overreaching their powers.

The Treasury previously justified its legal fights with Brussels by arguing that the EU plans would put the competitiveness of the City of London at risk.

Defending the decision to fight the bankers' bonus cap in the courts in September, a Treasury spokesperson said: "Britain has been at the forefront of global reforms to make banking more responsible, including big reductions in upfront cash bonuses and linking rewards to long-term success."

"Regulation of pay in this manner goes beyond what is permitted in the EU Treaty. That’s why we are challenging these rules in the European Court, to ensure the legislation respects the EU Treaty and actually achieves what it’s meant to."

See also: Here are ten attacks George Osborne once made on bankers' bonuses

George Osborne Vs Bank Bonuses