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China, EU urged to take the lead for financial overhaul
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China and Europe should "take the historic lead" and accelerate the restructuring of the global financial system, says a prominent European politician.

Saying that the international community had achieved little in its quest to remove excessive speculation and greed from the financial sector in the year since the start of the global financial crisis, former French Prime Minister and European Parliament member Michel Rocard called on China and Europe to grab the initiative.

He said the countries could take steps to regulate the global financial system, paving the way for the US to join the process at a later date.

"When shall we start to achieve that (reshaping of the global financial governance)? I think, without China and Europe taking the historic lead, it will become nothing," Rocard told China Daily in an exclusive interview in Paris.

"After China and Europe achieve some common understanding, the US should be brought on board to discuss and accept the detailed arrangement of financial order," said the 79-year-old, who wrapped up a 15-year stint as a member of the European Parliament in June.

He suggested that the US should not initially have a seat at the table because the Obama administration has, so far, failed to come up with official measures to root out greed and over-speculation and regulate financial tools and hedge funds in financial institutions.

"Europe, instead, has a long tradition of objecting to speculation and respecting regulation of the financial markets, in spite of divided voices within it," said Rocard, who was the French prime minister between 1988 and 1991. "And for China, its growing levering power would help bring balance between Europe and the US."

He said the EU lacks the "intelligence, power and determination" to take the lead at the very beginning of the process.

"China should bear the brunt of the global responsibility at this historic moment."

He said China is already acting decisively, having announced the idea of a global sovereign currency to replace the monopoly of the US dollar.

"And China should continue with such efforts and motivate the interest of Europe."

Pierre Calame, president of the Paris-based China-Europe Forum Foundation, echoed Rocard's suggestion, saying: "China and Europe should not lose the historic opportunity."

During an interview with China Daily, Calame said US president Barack Obama was open-minded and would be able to get behind a China-EU initiative to restore global financial order.

"In the George W. Bush era, the situation would have been totally different," Calame said.

He added that if only China and the US were at the negotiating table "G2 would lead the world nowhere".

"And if all the stakeholders were in discussions at the same time, it would be hard to achieve substantial results."

Calame insisted that China and Europe working together would not mean the exclusion of the US.

"On the contrary, the US side can observe the whole process and, once a Sino-European deal is made, the US and other global stakeholders could officially join in to discuss the final documents," he said.

"Of course, it is a slow process and, finally, compromises and agreements should be achieved among all the major parts in the world."

(China Daily August 4, 2009)

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