Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Analysis

The battle for banking union

  • AIB - the bailed-out Irish bank - under a European banking supervisor, would its problems have been spotted earlier? (Photo: Matt Buck)

In their last meeting before the summer break, EU leaders spoke about the need to break the "vicious link" between banks and sovereigns. The kind that allowed lenders to take unnecessary risks while local politicians conveniently looked the other way.

Now, just one week before a legislative proposal is to be tabled, the "vicious link" is in danger of being allowed to stay. And if it does, it will be down to significant lobbying by German Landesbanken and Sparkassen. In other words, the system will have lobbied to keep the system.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

At stake is whether a single banking supervisor should oversee all 6,000 euro-area banks.

Berlin wants only big banks to be directly monitored. The rest, as finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble recently wrote in the Financial Times, are to be treated differently.

The European Commission has said it will work out a compromise with Germany.

But in doing so it risks completely stripping the proposal of any of its usefulness.

It is not large banks, such as Deutsche Bank, where scrutiny is a problem, but much rather their smaller regional cousins.

Key issues that that will have to be dealt with in the banking proposal include how often banks are checked. Will it be on a weekly or monthly basis? Will the European Central Bank - the likely supervisor - give explicit orders or just make suggestions? Will Frankfurt will able to close down a bank? If so, in what circumstances and who will foot the bill?

At Germany's insistence, what is likely to emerge next week is a half-baked solution. There will be a European supervisor. But the national supervisors will ultimately hold sway.

This will essentially mean that no interfering and no much-needed light will be shined on Sparkassen or on any other small or medium bank in the eurozone. They will continue to operate under the scrutiny radar.

If this is the case, it will be go down as yet another of the eurozone's sticking plaster solutions.

More broadly, it will undermine Germany's case for closer political integration - ultimately involving treaty change - in the EU.

Berlin has been arguing to its somewhat mutinous euro partners that more scrutiny powers, particularly over national spending, need to be given to Brussels.

This, it says, would give confidence to the markets and prevent such a eurozone crisis from occurring again. Much the same case could be made for a European banking supervisor with bite.

Banking union to put 6,000 banks under ECB supervision

The European Central Bank will have the "ultimate decision-making authority" on supervising 6,000 euro-area banks, a commission spokesman has said. But Germany would like fewer banks included in the new system.

ECB to become bank union supremo

The ECB will supervise Europe’s biggest banks from mid-2013, according to controversial banking union proposals to be announced Wednesday.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Vestager says 'no' to Siemens-Alstom mega-merger

The EU blocked the merger of the makers of Germany's ICE and France's TGV trains, citing concerns of reduced competition and extra costs for consumers and taxpayers. The two countries now want to change the rules.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Opinion

Eastern Europe Matters

The foreign ministers of Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic reflect on 10 years of the Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us