Top EU officials weigh introducing firm cap on bankers' annual bonuses

Top European Union officials are holding eleventh-hour discussions on a package of financial laws that would include a firm cap on bankers' bonus payments.

The negotiations Wednesday between the European Parliament, the Commission and the bloc's governments primarily aim at introducing higher capital requirements for banks, the so-called Basel III rules.

But Parliament also wants to limit bankers' bonus payments to the equivalent of their fixed annual salary, or double that if a bank's shareholders agree.

Britain, home to Europe's biggest financial industry, rejects the idea but other governments indicate they'll accept it to ensure the more important Basel III rules will come into force 2014.

Public outrage has grown across Europe over payments to executives of banks that received huge state bailouts during the financial crisis.