EUROPE - EU single market commissioner Michel Barnier has said he is hopeful that the Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) Directive will remain "as close as possible" to its original proposals ahead of this evening's vote by the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON).

Barnier was addressing a press conference in Brussels about the EU's ongoing financial reform, but when asked about the so-called hedge fund directive he told reporters: "I am closer to the original Commission proposal than I am to the version from the Spanish Presidency".

The ECON committee's vote on the contentious AIFM directive, scheduled for this evening, has been postponed several times (see earlier IPE article: EU Parliament postpones AIFM vote).

When pushed on the subject, Barnier said he hoped for a "dynamic compromise", but hoped it would be "as close as possible to the proposals originally put by the Commission".

He added: "I still support equal treatment between fund managers [inside and outside the EU] as long as they stick to the letter of the standards being set".

Barnier's main topic at the press conference was a review of the EU's regulatory programme in the light of commitments made by the G20, including the Capital Requirements Directive, counter-cyclical capital buffers, and efforts to bring about a single set of global accounting standards.

He also spoke about credit rating agencies and EU plans to step up their regulations. Barnier said: "From June, we shall make it obligatory for all the agencies to have access to the same information: this should come into force in December."

Questioned on the sensitivity of sovereign debt issuers to rating reports, Barnier stated: "If you have a fever you would not get rid of it by breaking the thermometer".