The Minster for Finance says Michael Fingleton's failure to repay a controversial €1m bonus to Irish Nationwide is a matter between the building society and Mr Fingleton.

He was speaking at a meeting in Brussels, where EU finance ministers are seeking international agreement to regulate bank bonus payments.

A French bid to trim international bankers' bonuses won broad support in Brussels today, but still faces strong British reservations.

Senior figures led by Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker and Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, offered unqualified support in the run-up to a meeting of G20 finance ministers in London at the weekend.

However, others acknowledged that Britain must still be brought on board if French President Nicolas Sarkozy's intention to secure strong G20 regulation on the issue is to succeed at a summit of world leaders in Pittsburgh on September 24-25.

Last week, Sarkozy won a commitment from French bankers for a system of performance-related pay for traders, as part of a drive to reign in a bonus culture seen as a major factor in the global credit crunch.

However many bank chiefs believe such a bonus cap would be ineffective merely at national level and must be also be introduced by other major banking nations.

'I totally support the proposals made by France,' for discussion at the G20 summit, Luxembourg Prime Minister and Eurogroup head Juncker said. Sweden's Borg said the key issue was 'to stop the restarting of the bonus culture'.

'The bankers are acting like it's 1999 but it's actually 2009. The bonus culture must come to an end and it must come to an end in Pittsburgh,' he stated.

The French proposal has already received support from Germany and the European Commission. But Britain, mindful of protecting the financial capital of Europe in London, has voiced reservations as has the US.

The European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Joaquin Almunia, said EU nations should follow the guidelines which the EU's executive arm recommended in April, including blocking bonuses in non-performing banks and basing bonuses on 'longer-term performance'.

'Some of them are adopting measures that I consider broadly adequate in this regard,' he added.

A public backlash at a return to multi billion euro bonus provisions among major banks in the US, Britain and also in France has been accompanied by pressure from political leaders already forced to apply huge bail-out funding in their financial sectors.

But while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday pledged action on excessive bonuses, he said a mandatory cap would be difficult to enforce.

Juncker, who is Luxembourg's PM and finance minister as well as being chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, said the worst of the financial crisis was 'over for the time being'.

However he added that it was not yet time to withdraw fiscal stimulus packages. 'We have to continue this effort in the course of this year and next year,' he said.

Meanwhile, EU finance ministers have agreed to raise the union's contribution to the International Monetary Fund to €125 billion. 'We have to put our money where our mouths are,' said Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, whose country holds the EU presidency.