28th Oct 2016

MEPs vote to protect small bank depositors

  • Fifty-nine banks in the EU have been restructured following the start of the financial crisis, says the European Commission (Photo: Fergus Ray Murray)

Large depositors in the EU will from 2016 be in line to suffer losses if a bank gets into serious trouble, but deposits under €100,000 should be fully protected, MEPs in the economic affairs committee voted late on Monday (20 May).

“The bail-in of any creditors should be done according to a clear hierarchy, with depositors with savings over €100,000 last in line, whilst deposits under €100,000 would be fully protected,” said Green economic and finance spokesperson Philippe Lamberts in a statement.

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The votes amended the European Commission’s bank recovery and resolution proposal.

The proposal outlines steps to ensure taxpayers will not have to fork out because financial institutions are “too big to fail.”

But the taxpayer is not completely out of the picture.

Deputies say the commission’s proposal will need to spell out the worse case scenario.

They added new text which states that “in times of systemic crisis member states may provide extraordinary public financial support.”

It says such government tools should only be used “as a last resort after having assessed and exploited the other resolution tools to the maximum extent possible practicable whilst maintaining financial stability.”

An EU official close to the issue said the goal is to make sure that taxpayers only come in at the very end.

“The article puts in place on how to do this,” he said.

He said the commission’s original proposal in 2012 had obtained little political support until Cyprus hit headlines earlier this year.

The island nation took on a €10 billion rescue package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following a massive bank failure.

Bank depositers with over €100,000 in two Cypriot banks were told to contribute some €6 billion to the package.

Those with less than €100,000 had also been told to contribute until a public backlash forced officials to retract the idea.

Deputies decided to guarantee the security of bank deposits of at least €100,000 or less following the Cyprus bailout debacle.

The European Central Bank (ECB) wants the bail-in guarantee to start immediately.

The commission proposed 2018. The parliament’s lead negotiator on the file suggested January 2016 as a compromise.

The committee deleted a commission proposal on using deposit guarantees to help out ailing banks. Instead, they replaced the commission’s proposal with an article on how to protect insured depositors.

The voted text aims to set up European standards on how resolution authorities will undergo their work but with a national slant.

Deputies say the authorities should be able to force banks to adopt a credible plan. They can also restructure the ailing bank if necessary.

The commission, for its part, is set to come out with a proposal for European resolution mechanism and a European resolution fund over the summer.

“Ultimately, the creation of a European bank resolution fund, funded by the banks themselves, would provide the greatest protection but proposals to this end have yet to be made,” said Lamberts.

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