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Cameron Speech Excerpts Raise Specter of EU Exit

British Prime Minister David Cameron prepared a speech that put 40 years of integration with the continent on the line by raising the specter of a U.K. exit from the European Union.

While Cameron postponed the speech in Amsterdam due to the hostage crisis in Algeria, his office earlier released excerpts for publication before the scheduled address today.

“More of the same” won’t be enough to guarantee the EU’s future due to Britons’ dismay at a lack of consent in their relationship with the 27-nation bloc, Cameron planned to say, according to the text.

“There is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years and which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is, yes, felt particularly acutely in Britain,” he was due to say. “The danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.”

Cameron is responding to pressure from lawmakers in his Conservative Party for looser ties with the EU or an outright departure from the political union. While giving voice to his base’s discontent and holding out the prospect of a popular vote on renegotiated membership terms, Cameron has already received pushback from European counterparts.

Obama Call

Cameron, who briefed U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande on his speech yesterday, has said that he didn’t expect Europe to be a significant issue in his first term. Obama told Cameron “the United States values a strong U.K. in a strong European Union,” according to a White House readout of the call between the two leaders.

The decision to push for a renegotiation has been driven by lawmakers in Cameron’s party, who in 2011 defied him in record numbers to vote for a referendum on leaving the EU.

“European interests should always be the most important,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said yesterday. “The European Union doesn’t just mean taking account of national concerns.”

Cameron planned to say that the deepening integration of the 17 euro countries, which don’t include Britain, and the demands of global competition raise “fundamental questions” about the nature of the U.K.’s relationship with the EU.

“People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent,” he was due to say.

Bailout Loan

Britain has contributed 3.25 billion pounds ($5.2 billion) in the form of a loan for Ireland to 486 billion euros ($649 billion) of bailout commitments to four euro-area countries from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Both Cameron’s Liberal Democrat coalition partners and the opposition Labour Party oppose his push to loosen ties with Europe, saying he risks investor confidence and London’s role as a financial center.

“For many foreign investors one of Britain’s attractions is as a gateway to a market of 500 million people,” Ed Balls, economy spokesman for Labour, wrote in an article on the Guardian newspaper’s website. “At a time when securing jobs and growth must be the priority in Europe and when the future shape of the euro zone remains so uncertain, announcing now a referendum that will raise fears that Britain could leave the EU cannot be in our national interest.”

Forty-two percent of the electorate say they would vote in a referendum to leave the EU compared with 36 percent who said they would back staying in, according to a YouGov Plc (YOU) poll conducted online on Jan. 10 and 11. A YouGov poll in November found 51 percent favoring an exit.

The speech has yet to be rescheduled.  

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Crédit Agricole CIB et la SPGP transigent avec l'AMF

La banque de financement et d'investissement du Crédit Agricole a signé avec l'AMF un «accord de composition administrative». Cette procédure de transaction, applicable aux manquements limités, permet d'éviter une sanction pure et simple. CA CIB a ainsi accepté de verser 100.000 euros pour des faits relatifs à son activité de tenue de marché sur un fonds commun de placement. Dans un autre dossier, la Société privée de gestion de patrimoine (SPGP) s'est engagée à verser 100.000 euros au Trésor public et à restituer près de 135.000 euros de frais indûment perçus à ses clients. Les deux accords ont été publiés jeudi par l'AMF sur son site internet.

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BNP Paribas compterait lancer un plan d'efficacité opérationnelle

BNP Paribas va prochainement dévoiler un plan d'efficacité opérationnelle à horizon 2015 visant à simplifier son organisation et réduire ses coûts, rapporte vendredi L'Agefi.

Ce plan, baptisé "Simple & Efficient 2015", s'appliquera à l'ensemble des activités de la banque dans le monde entier, écrit le quotidien électronique, précisant que les grandes lignes de cette réorganisation ont été présenté en interne le 16 janvier lors d'un comité central d'entreprise.

"Pour cela, le groupe entend débloquer dans les trois ans une enveloppe d'investissement d'un milliard d'euros afin d'accompagner la réorganisation de ses différentes activités", écrit le journal.

L'Agefi précise que ce plan pourrait être officialisé lors de la présentation des résultats annuels de la banque le 14 février prochain.

Personne n'était joignable dans l'immédiat chez BNP Paribas pour un commentaire.

Dans un entretien à Reuters Insider début novembre, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, administrateur et directeur général de la banque, avait indiqué que BNP Paribas allait concentrer ses efforts sur les réductions de coûts durant les prochains mois.

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