Monday

25th Jun 2018

Analysis

Germany out on top after late-night summit

  • The German Bundestag will have a say each step of the way when setting up the banking union (Photo: BriYYZ)

EU leaders left Brussels Friday (19 October) after having spent the best part of the meeting tweaking wording on a banking union that was supposed to have been clear in June.

They went back to their hotels at a bleary-eyed 3am on Friday. But for all the lengthiness, the end result was practically the same for Berlin - the European banking supervisor will not be up and running any time soon.

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The issue is key. Without the supervisor, the eurozone bailout fund will not be allowed to directly recapitalize ailing banks.

Speaking after the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who has been pushing for more fiscal discipline among member states before she will accept opening up German coffers - said that there was a clear order of tasks to follow.

A legal basis should be set out by the December meeting of EU leaders, with finance ministers tasked to do the job.

Then comes the building up of the supervisory authority. Only when this is “able to work” can direct bank recapitalization begin.

While the concluding statement says that “work on the operational implementation will take place in the course of 2013” there are many potential pitfalls on the way.

Merkel acknowledged as much saying that alone trying to have a legal framework in place by 1 January 2013 is “very ambitious.”

Then there have to be negotiations with the European parliament. And then up to 300 staff will be needed for the new body.

“These people have to be found. They have to be employed," said the chancellor.

It is also still unclear how the new supervisory authority would work with the existing European Banking Authority - a body co-ordinating work of all EU national supervisors - or how to deal with non eurozone countries that have banks in euro countries.

Meanwhile not all of the 6000 eurozone banks are equal. They will be supervised in a “differentiated” manner, with some remaining under the oversight of national authorities.

And aside from the legal and political questions at the European level, there are potential domestic hiccups. Each step of the way, Geman MPs will have to give the green light

According to Merkel, they will have their say when the legal framework is produced, when the supervisory body is considered up and running and when it comes to requests for the eurozone bailout fund (ESM) to recapitalise banks.

There has been much speculation about whether the chancellor is delaying the banking union question until after the general election next September. She herself noted that one expert suggested the functioning supervisory authority would probably be in place only at the beginning of 2014.

But Merkel said she had "never even thought about that."

Still there was a burst of laughter when she mistakenly said that the banking supervisor would not be in place before 2030. She quickly corrected herself to 2013.

Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'

After late-night talks, the Eurogroup agreed on a €15bn disbursement and debt relief measures for Greece, while setting out a tight monitoring when the bailout ends in August.

Greek bailout exit takes shape

At a meeting next week, eurozone finance ministers and the IMF are expected to agree on new cash, debt relief measures, and a monitoring mechanism to ensure that Greece can live without international aid for the first time since 2010.

Opinion

The risks behind the 'green bond' boom

The EU should not overuse the financial system in order to achieve environmental goals, or it risks the emergence of a green bond bubble which would be detrimental to the financial sector and hinder the achievement of climate targets.

Opinion

Eurozone needs institutional reform

Both the examples of Greece and Italy test the limits of a system with inherent weaknesses that feeds internal gaps, strengthens deficits and debts in the European South, and surpluses in the European North respectively.

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