Before a marathon of meetings with EU officials, Boris Johnson told EurActiv that he was not against regulation per se, but maintained that the directive should take on a less protectionist and less bureaucratic shape. Nevertheless, he was conscious of the fact that he was "defending the most unpopular group of people in the universe".
The mayor had scheduled meetings with UK MEPs, the EPP, Timothy Kirkhope (who leads the Tories in the European Parliament), and lastly the internal market commissioner, Charlie McCreevy.
He said he would be telling EU officials that the directive was neither in London's nor Europe's interests, as it would divert US investors away from Europe and allow rival non-EU jurisdictions "to claim business, jobs, growth and investment that would otherwise stay in the European Union". Special mention was made of non-EU country Switzerland, which Johnson sees as "actively touting for this business".
According to the mayor, the directive punishes the wrong people. He spoke of a sense in London's industry circles that "EU officialdom was taking advantage of a crisis to bring forward this piece of legislation".
Commenting on the mayor's visit, the president of the European Socialist party, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, said Mr. Johnson was out of touch with reality and that hedge funds and private equity played a major role in exacerbating excessive debt.
Rasmussen added the City of London had escaped lightly with the "modest and long-overdue reforms".
"It is the result of an overwhelming consensus between conservatives, Liberals and Socialists in the European Parliament and has strong support from many European governments," he said.
The mayor is not the only voice from London asking the Commission to slow down and reconsider the directive. The Alternative Investment Managers Association, the most vocal UK-based lobby group on the issue, has asked the Commission to follow the Financial Services Authority's example and conduct an impact assessment of the draft AIFM directive. The British regulator has commissioned CRA International to conduct a study to examine the effects of the directive.
Boris Johnson was speaking to Claire Davenport.
To read the interview in full, please click here.