Saturday

4th Apr 2020

Eurozone hawks deal blow to bank bailout plans

  • Investors are once more doubting eurozone politicians' conviction (Photo: Popicinio-01)

EU officials went into damage control mode on Wednesday (26 September) after the finance ministers of Germany, Finland and the Netherlands said the old debt of troubled banks should not be put on the eurozone bailout fund's books.

Earlier in the day, the value of Spanish bonds fell, as investors wondered yet again whether the country's bad banks will be saved by the richer eurozone countries using the so-called European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a €500 billion fund due to be inaugurated on 8 October.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Back in June, during an all-night session among EU leaders, Spain and Italy were told the ESM would be able to recapitalise banks directly once a single supervisor for eurozone banks is in place.

It was also agreed that Spain's €100 billion bailout for its banking sector would be put on the ESM books once the supervisor is in place, so Madrid can get its balance sheet back on track.

But on Tuesday (26 September), Finland, Germany and the Netherlands - the acknowledged hawks of the eurozone - issued a joint statement suggesting old debt of troubled banks should not be taken up by the joint fund.

"The ESM can take direct responsibility of problems that occur under the new supervision, but legacy assets should be under the responsibility of national authorities," the statement reads.

A commission spokesman on Wednesday downplayed the statement as a "negotiating position" since the technicalities of the new supervisory body and the ESM are still to be ironed out.

"It's just a normal process that, after the political guidance that was given by the heads of state and government, there is technical work on the different elements, different details, and the different guidelines that have to be fleshed out to allow the proper implementation of this financial instrument at the beginning of next year," said Olivier Bailly.

He added the commission wants to see the new banking supervision rules agreed by the end of the year, as EU leaders had jointly stated in June.

But the three top-rated countries want to take things slowly.

"We agreed that it is important to achieve rapid progress on this issue, but it cannot happen at a cost of the quality of the new supervision," the joint statement reads.

They also indicated that direct recapitalisation of banks should happen not on day one of the new supervisor (based within the European Central Bank in Frankfurt), but only after this new body "is established and its effectiveness has been determined."

The "quality" of banks to be propped is also a sticking point.

The EU commission had suggested that the most troubled ones should be first to get direct help from the ESM. But the three ministers disagree: "The recapitalisation should always occur using estimated real economic values."

As one EU diplomat told this website: "We don't want to pump money into some bad banks, these have to be viable ones."

All decisions regarding the establishment of the new banking supervisor and of recapitalising banks directly through the ESM have to be taken by unanimity in the Council of finance ministers.

No breakthrough at EU budget summit

EU leaders failed to reach agreement on the EU's long-term budget, as richer states and poorer 'cohesion countries' locked horns. The impasse continues over how to fund the Brexit gap.

EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock

Cuts to innovation, space, neighbourhood and other programme-spending push down the latest budget proposal on the table of EU leaders. Rebates could stay on, to win the support of the net-payers for a deal.

Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote

A trade deal with Vietnam sailed through the European Parliament's international trade committee and after its embassy sent MEPs bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne over Christmas.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. EU's 'Irini' Libya mission: Europe's Operation Cassandra
  2. Slovak army deployed to quarantine Roma settlements
  3. Lockdown: EU officials lobbied via WhatsApp and Skype
  4. EU: Athens can handle Covid outbreak at Greek camp
  5. New push to kick Orban's party out of centre-right EPP
  6. EU launches €100bn worker support scheme
  7. Court: Three countries broke EU law on migrant relocation
  8. Journalism hit hard by corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us