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EU insurers oppose merging banking and insurance watchdogs

LONDON (Reuters) – Merging the European Union’s insurance and banking watchdogs could weaken financial supervision, top insurers said on Tuesday.

Britain’s departure from the European Union means that the European Banking Authority must move from its base in London to elsewhere in the EU with a string of cities jostling for it.

But Brussels policymakers have suggested it could be merged with the Frankfurt-based European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority or EIOPA.

The bloc was already reviewing supervisory arrangements put in place after the 2007-09 financial crisis.

“There is also no evidence that another EU supervisory structure would work better and justify the costs, risks and years of uncertainty that would accompany any significant structural changes,” Insurance Europe said in a statement.

Insurers have long resisted being lumped in with banks, fearing they will end up being regulated more harshly.

The industry body said it also opposes transferring EIOPA’s conduct powers to the EU’s European Securities and Markets Authority in Paris.

Michaela Koller, director general of Insurance Europe, said a strong, dedicated European insurance supervisor is needed.

“Insurance is a complex industry that requires a focused supervisor with a high degree of expertise overseeing all areas of supervision,” she said.

EIOPA did not need any new powers and should instead focus on using its existing powers to the full, she added.

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