Rapporteur: Sorting out details of the banking union

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MEPs face a daunting two weeks as they attempt to iron out glitches in key banking union regulations before heads of state meet in December to seal the new regime. Parliament’s life would be made easier if they knew how many countries want to join the new union, the rapporteur on one of the two regulations tells EurActiv.

Sven Giegold is a Green German MEP and rapporteur for the key regulation on amendment of the European Banking Authority – on which the Parliament has co-decision with the Council. He spoke to EurActiv’s Jeremy Fleming.

You had a meeting recently with the rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs, what decisions were made?

A meeting took place [two weeks ago], and the first decision was that we will stick to timeline, we want to vote on 29 November and shadows have agreed to use a cross-party approach to achieve this and this will mean we have until the EU summit in December to carry out trilogues, which can start immediately after the 29 November.

It was also decided that if there is no agreement on everything – including the ECB report – then there will be no agreement on the EBA report. So it was very clear that there has to be agreement on both fronts. If there is no full detailed agreement on the ECB part then there will be no agreement. From the perspective of the Parliament you cannot build the next big step in EU integration without the Parliament, Parliament will not accept that.

How many amendments have been proposed by MEPs?

All the amendments have been filed, between 1,200-1,300 amendments in total. There were fewer than 300 on the EBA regulation and all the rest on the ECB regulation. Certain related to the arrangements on the ECB function as supervisor and others sought to signal stronger limitations on the whole idea of a banking superviser, there are important differences between these two different types of approach therefore.

What do you see as the crucial issues to be agreed on the papers?

I think the most important overall question is whether we are heading towards a “17+” member state-banking union, or a “27-“ approach. It makes a huge difference, because if we have ‘17+’, then the banking union will split the common market, and it will be necessary to give the EBA much more power to ensure that the common market is not the victim of the new supervisor. This is not what we want to do if we want to make the banking union attractive to those countries which do not currently use the euro, but may want to join it. The demands of the UK make much more sense if only a few non-euro countries join in the banking union, but if everybody does then these demands became democratically very doubtful.

But as yet it is still unclear which of the non-euro countries are keen to join ...

It would be very useful if the Ecofin would clarify that, because we are getting very mixed signals on the political level. We have the impression that many countries want to join, but then the working group of the Council appears to be very unclear.

Another question relates to how the banking supervisor might be separated from the ECB or kept within it. Under the treaty there are limitations towards the ECB’s role as a supervisor. Clause 127(6) makes clear that the treaty is not the ideal basis: there are no rights for the ECB to act as a supervisor within the insurance sector and there are democratic limitations, because final decisions must be taken by the general council of the ECB where the non-euro member states have no voting rights. That is a problem.

There have been suggestions that Germany is keen to carve out an exemption for its Sparkassen, or regional savings banks. Do you want to see this?

Of course there is a subsidiarity concern in various member states, not only in Germany with the Sparkassen, and that is understandable to a certain degree, because these are local banks with special constructions. For example you do not find similar groupings elsewhere in Europe any more, and that causes some concerns. But the history of financial crises shows you that networks of small banks can also cause a collapse, as happened during the savings and mortgage crisis in the US. So the final responsibility should be with the supervisor, but day-to-day supervision should rest with the national supervisors.