LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland should not count on securing softer bailout penalties, the EU's competition chief Joaquin Almunia told the Financial Times on Monday.
Almunia said he had "no fear" that the state-owned British banks would fail to fulfil their sanctions, imposed for accepting public money, on time.
He said Brussels gave the UK banks relatively long periods of about four years to make the disposals, which are designed to repay taxpayers and eliminate competitive advantage from state aid.
"We know that they have encountered some practical difficulties, but the deadlines in both cases were longer than usual because of the huge size of the restructuring in both cases," Almunia was quoted as saying.
"We know they are discussing how to implement these commitments but so far I have not received any sign that they can't comply with final deadlines."
Lloyds must divest around 630 branches by November 2013 and RBS must dispose of its insurance arm by the end of 2014.
Reuters reported last week that Lloyds may ask the European Commission for more time to shed around 630 branches because regulatory hurdles had hindered their sale.
However, Almunia's spokesman ,Antoine Colombani, said on Sunday that Lloyds has not asked for an extension, adding that its restructuring plan also allows it to dispose of the branches via an IPO if it cannot sell them off.