Britain's EU commissioner, finance chief Hill, resigns

Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:25pm EDT
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By Alastair Macdonald

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The British member of the EU executive, Financial Services Commissioner Jonathan Hill, resigned on Saturday after having campaigned against Britain leaving the European Union.

Following the referendum vote for Brexit on Thursday, few expected a Briton to retain oversight of the EU banking and finance market that will be a key battleground in negotiations between London and Brussels on dissolving British membership.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was handing the portfolio to Valdis Dombrovskis, who will take it into his brief as vice president for the euro from July 16.

An EU official said the move made it clear that plans for an EU capital markets union would now focus on the euro zone after Hill had worked to ensure new EU rules would not disadvantage London's huge finance industry based outside the currency area.

"It's clear there will be a less clear division between the capital markets union and the euro zone," the official said.

London-based banks and other financial firms are concerned about access to the EU once Britain leaves the single market.

Hill said in a statement a day after British voters backed Brexit in a referendum called by Prime Minister David Cameron: "I don't believe it is right that I should carry on as the British commissioner as though nothing had happened."

Dombrovskis, who as prime minister took Latvia into the euro, and whose current role already oversees Hill's portfolio, said his priority was to maintain financial stability in markets.   Continued...

File Photo - Britain's EU Commissioner Lord Jonathan Hill seen in Brussels, Belgium, February 18, 2015.    REUTERS/Francois Lenoir