The FT reports this morning that Michel Barnier, Europe’s top financial regulator, has shelved plans to rein in the credit rating agencies. Barnier, who is internal market commissioner, had to bow to objections elsewhere in the EU. We report that Barnier still unveiled proposals to transform the business model of the big agencies but has ordered some last-minute “technical work” that amounts to a ceasefire.

Both Barnier and the rating agencies were discussed in the House of Lords last night, where former City minister Lord Myners was on scathing form. First the Labour peer (a former chairman of Marks & Spencer) criticised the “flawed thinking” from the European Commission on the issue. He then continued:

I worry very much about Mr Barnier. I met Mr Barnier when he was a Minister. He came to see us at the Treasury. He came down the corridor and I was watching him. I am a great fan of art and I was rather impressed that he stopped to look at every painting. I thought this is a man with whom I share a common interest-until I realised he was actually looking at his reflection in the glass on every painting, and adjusting his hair or his toupee. This to me is a man whom we should treat with a very long spoon. I hope the Minister will take due care in working with Mr Barnier because we have been forewarned that this man intends to seek even more powers than those he announced today. He said he wants to return to the issue of censoring rating agencies. I sincerely hope that the Government and the Opposition would have no part in endorsing such an activity.

 Read more >>

Welcome to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. Today’s summit in Brussels could, in years to come, be viewed as a turning point in the eurozone crisis. Or, it could be just one more extended meeting at which policymakers tried – and failed – to agree on a plan big enough to calm the storm in Europe’s sovereign debt markets. We’ll bring you news and commentary throughout the day.

All times are London time. By Esther Bintliff on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. This post should update automatically every few minutes, but it may take longer on mobile devices.

13.05: In case you want to know the timetable for tonight’s summit, it’s here. Ominous small print: “The programme may be modified in light of progress of the meeting.”

 Read more >>

Welcome to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis, compiled by John Aglionby and Esther Bintliff on the world news desk in London with contributions from correspondents from around the world. All times are London time. The blog should update every few minutes.

The optimisim of last week that European leaders were on top of the eurozone’s debt crisis and would deliver a comprehensive solution at a summit in Brussels this weekend is waning. Significant differences remain on the three key items – a second bail-out for Greece, recapitalising Europe’s banks and finding a mechanism to leverage the eurozone’s €440bn rescue fund.

 Read more >>

From our foreign affairs blog:

Welcome to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. All times are London time. This post should update every few minutes, but it may take longer on mobile devices.

Curated by John Aglionby and Esther Bintliff on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

Today’s main drama is in Bratislava (it’s not often one says that), where the Slovakian parliament is voting whether to back the expanded eurozone rescue fund, the EFSF. (The pic is of Iveta Radicova, the Slovakian prime minister, just in case you were wondering.)

 Read more >>

From our foreign affairs blog:

Welcome to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. All times are London time. Curated by Esther Bintliff and John Aglionby on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. This post should update automatically every few minutes, although it may take longer on mobile devices.

 Read more >>

Portugal is to get a €78bn ($116bn) bail-out from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the third eurozone country to receive emergency external funding. Lex’s John Authers and Vincent Boland discuss if it’s enough to resolve the country’s longer-term economic problems. Read more >>

Portugal will be asked to implement sweeping austerity measures and conduct a major privatisation programme when negotiations begin next week to hammer out a likely €80bn bailout package with the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Read more >>

Moody’s decision to downgrade Spain’s sovereign credit rating from Aa1 to Aa2 was very unwelcome to the Spanish government yesterday, but it may have come as a timely reminder to other European leaders, meeting in Brussels today, that they are still a very long way from solving the sovereign debt crisis. Ever since the beginning of the year, the markets have been willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the European negotiators, believing that the Germans and the French had finally come to the view that some form of fiscal burden sharing was a better alternative, for themselves as well as for the troubled economies, than the risk of sovereign defaults, or worse still the break up of the euro. Read more >>

Why commercial property in Spain is like Monopoly Read more >>