European Union officials have struck a provisional deal on new financial rules, including capping bank bonuses.
Under the agreement, bank bonuses will be capped at a year’s salary, but can rise to two year’s pay if there is explicit approval from shareholders.
The deal was reached late on Wednesday. EU ministers must approve it, although this is considered a formality.
The UK, which hosts Europe’s biggest financial services centre, was opposed to any of caps on bank bonuses.
London argues the rules would drive away talent and restrict growth in the financial sector.
Top bankers and financial traders can earn bonuses multiple times their base salaries. But there has been public outrage over bonuses following the huge bail-outs of banks.
The agreement was reached during eight hours of intense talks in Brussels between members of the European parliament, the European Commission and representatives of the bloc’s 27 governments.
Othmar Karas, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, said: “For the first time in the history of EU financial market regulation, we will cap bankers’ bonuses.
“The essence is that from 2014, European banks will have to set aside more money to be more stable and concentrate on their core business, namely financing the real economy, that of small and medium-sized enterprises and jobs.”
The deal paves the way for Basel III, an overhaul of banking rules.
The G20 group of rich nations had originally planned to bring in Basel III last month, but that has been delayed to January 2014.
Basel III focuses on a ratio of high-quality capital – called tier 1 – which is needed to cushion it against any future shocks. It will rise to 9% after the rules come into effect.
Once the proposals are formally agreed it will start the biggest shake-up of the banking system since the global financial crisis.
The lack of solid financial cushions meant that many banks were vulnerable, and eventually required taxpayer-funded bailouts to avoid bankruptcy.