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MEMO/11/777

Brussels, 11 November 2011

Statement by Commissioner Michel Barnier following the incorrect rating of France by Standard & Poor's

This incident is serious and it shows that in the current tense and volatile market situation, market players must exercise discipline and demonstrate a special sense of responsibility.

This is all the more important since we are not talking about just any market player but one of the biggest rating agencies, which, as such, has a particular responsibility.

I do not want to comment on the error itself - which was acknowledged immediately by Standard & Poors. It will be up to ESMA (which is the European Supervisory Authority of rating agencies), in coordination with the AMF (the national) to establish the facts, assess them and draw conclusions .

All this strengthens my conviction that Europe must adopt strict and rigorous rules, including but not limited to the rating agencies. For nearly two years now, this has been my work.

 The draft legislation that I will bring forward next week will strengthen the legislation on rating agencies on several levels:

  • Reduced reliance on ratings, and we can see again today just how important that is;

  • Increased competition and elimination of conflicts of interest;

  • Increased transparency and rigor in the rating of sovereign debt;

  • And finally creating a European framework for civil liability in the case of serious misconduct or gross negligence.

All these points, especially the latter, are relevant in the context of this case.


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