EU summit: France says bank deal helps eurozone fusion

 

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt reports on the winners and losers in the deal

The French president says a deal to start building a banking union on 1 January will enable the eurozone to speed up economic integration.

"Thanks to this we can advance more quickly and with more assurance," Francois Hollande said in Brussels.

He was speaking after EU leaders agreed to set up a single banking supervisor for the 17-nation eurozone - a key step towards a banking union.

But Mr Hollande also said EU states "need different speeds" of integration.

"We should have a council of the eurozone to meet on a regular basis... We need different speeds - that's agreed by everyone now, and there are even some moving backwards," he told a news conference.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted again that "quality takes precedence over speed" in setting up the banking union.

New ECB clout

It has been agreed that the European Central Bank (ECB), as supervisor-in-chief, will have the power to intervene in any of the eurozone's 6,000 banks.

The deal appears to be a compromise between France and Germany, who earlier disagreed over the timing and over the number of banks the ECB would oversee.

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Compromising and fudging is the way business often gets done in Brussels”

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A legislative framework is to be in place by 1 January, with the supervisory body starting work later in 2013.

The timetable remains important, because only when the body is fully operational will the eurozone's new rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), be able to recapitalise struggling banks directly, without adding to a country's sovereign debt pile.

A priority is to rescue weak banks in Spain, where a recent audit put the bailout requirement at 59.3bn euros (£48.3bn; $77.4bn).

But the Greek crisis also looms large, as the EU awaits a key report from the "troika" of international lenders - the ECB, European Commission and International Monetary Fund.

Mr Hollande insisted that "Greece's presence in the eurozone should not be questioned any more" and Mrs Merkel said the Greek government was "really making an all-out effort" to reform its economy.

Meanwhile, Spain's main trade unions have called a general strike for 14 November, coinciding with similar protests in Portugal and Greece.

Banking union - Three-stage plan

  • Single supervisory mechanism (SSM)
  • Joint resolution scheme to wind down failing banks
  • Joint deposit guarantee scheme
'Ambitious roadmap'

Berlin wanted to apply the brakes over the banking union and much wrangling lies ahead, the BBC's Europe editor Gavin Hewitt says.

Mrs Merkel insisted on Friday that "the right sequence is important" and added: "It's already quite an ambitious roadmap."

Germany had been at odds with the European Commission over the scope of the proposed ECB supervision. All the eurozone banks will be included - but Germany had wanted it limited to the biggest, "systemic" banks.

Previously, the German government has expressed a desire to retain supervisory responsibility within Germany over the country's Landesbanks - state-owned banks that play a key role in the economies and state finances of Germany's federal regions.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the 27 EU leaders had agreed to set up "a Single Supervisory Mechanism [SSM], to prevent banking risks and cross-border contagion from emerging".

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Sofia Palma Rodrigues

What the media do not do enough is study the reasons we are in this crisis”

End Quote Sofia Palma Rodrigues Portuguese journalist

"Once this is agreed, the SSM could probably be effectively operational in the course of 2013," he said.

With new supervisory powers the ECB would be able to act early on to prevent a systemically dangerous accumulation of debt on a bank's balance sheets.

UK concerns

ECB supervision will not extend to the UK - Europe's main financial centre, but outside the euro.

However, the BBC's Business editor Robert Peston says there is now a serious risk that the UK will always be outvoted when decisions are taken on the regulation of banking and finance in the EU as a whole.

It is more than a theoretical possibility that the interests of the UK and City of London in shaping financial rules will be systematically ignored or overridden, he says. The UK also wants safeguards to protect the powers of the Bank of England.

Mrs Merkel said the agreement was that "banks must be supervised in a differentiated way. That means that some will be direct... at the ECB level and others indirectly, via the national authorities."

She also said that ECB President Mario Draghi had told her it would be some months before the ECB was ready to take on its new role.

Fraught with complications

The leaders agreed that the ECB's new supervisory function would be strictly separated from its role in setting monetary policy.

The banking union plan is fraught with legal complications, as it would give more powers to the ECB and possibly weaken those of national regulators.

There is speculation that it could lead to treaty changes - something that has caused big headaches for the EU in the past.

The EU Commission said the arrangement would be "as inclusive as legally possible for non-euro members to join if they want to".

 

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  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 50.

    The EU has already demonstrated a colossal series of macro and micro economic failures, a lack of European political vision and strategy and a huge imbalance of power. On paper the EU sounded great, the reality is and like many predicted, it is failing massively! Some great ideas but in a world dominated by cash, I wouldn't opt for an EU run banking system in a world full of corruption and greed..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 49.

    New subject pleae we have done the EU to death!!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 48.

    When they get control of your money you are slaves. Law makers become irrelevant. Voters even more so. So the EU Empire rolls on and over the victims. Ruin and impoverish whole nations so they obey. Going well so far.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 47.

    Moving at different speeds?, can we call that financial tectonics, leading to a continental breakup. and EU breakdown?.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 46.

    38. KeithT
    Knee-jerk anti - Europe sentiment is obviously alive and well in so many of these Comments, leading to mere bluster. I don't see any reasoned argument against either the ESM or a banking union.


    Having unelected EU bureaucrats meddling in other countries affairs is a perfectly reasonable argument against it. All for German best interests. Nice.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 45.

    Haven't we said all there is to say about the EU already today? I imagine the editors of this page scratching around for a topic and deciding "Let us just throw them EU bone to ganw at, or we could do the bankers again. They like kicking bankers, too."

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 44.

    But it isn't the EU any more..It's just Germany and France that calls all the shots.

    It's time to say Auf Wiedersehen and Au Revoir....but not soon I hope.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 43.

    "The French president says a deal to start building a banking union on 1 January will enable the eurozone to speed up economic integration."

    Great; economic integration has been working really well so far in Europe...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 42.

    If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 41.

    @33 Sean33z

    The incoming President Mitt Romney should insist on new board members and drastic improvements on lending rates.

    =================================

    Do you know something, the rest of us don't?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 40.

    yawn yawn this euro stuff is oh so boring.....i like to see van rumpy and merkal do a song and dance routine and cheer us all up a bit.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 39.

    Fantastic..

    Now our unelected leaders will be able to give all our tax money to their friends in the banking sector even more efficiently..

    Come on people we are not even being robbed blind, we are being robbed in plain sight.

    Traffic wardens gone, streetlights getting turned off, services slashed and sold to friends

    Its our money and its missing. When are you going to make the connection?

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 38.

    Knee-jerk anti - Europe sentiment is obviously alive and well in so many of these Comments, leading to mere bluster. I don't see any reasoned argument against either the ESM or a banking union.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 37.

    Even more control for the un-elected in Brussels. Democracy??? This is becoming reminiscent of the powers Senator Palpatine gains over the republic in Star Wars. And we all know how that ended!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 36.

    30. David Horton

    So it comes to a simple choice.

    a) be governed by people voted for by Britons

    b) be governed by people voted for by the residents of Paris, Frankfurt, Marseille, Berlin, Lyon and Hamburg

    --

    Being governed by Germany would get my vote over Cameron, Clegg & Miliband.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 35.

    30.David Horton

    "...a) be governed by people voted for by Britons

    b) be governed by people voted for by the residents of Paris, Frankfurt, Marseille, Berlin, Lyon and Hamburg..."

    ===

    By that logic all states would disintegrate into tiny fragments, peopled by those, none of whom wanted anyone outside them to have a bearing on their affairs. (A bit like Yorkshire).

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 34.

    So much for the argument that EU political integration is necessary for stability of Europe and avoiding strife, unrest etc.

    I can see the potential for every European capital laying in smoking ruins here as the plebs eventually take to the streets & riot as caused by their frustration of the the shambolic mess called the EU, EC, ECB, Euro - & Lib Dems & Labour still want UK to join the Euro

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 33.

    The Federal Reserve Board (U.S.) refuses to increase interest rates for American Banks. The financial institutions remain uncompetitive and prone to chapter bankurptcy. The incoming President Mitt Romney should insist on new board members and drastic improvements on lending rates.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 32.

    And about time too...!

    I'll now sit back while the majority of HYS contributors have a fit of apoplexy.

    Let's see if I can get the lowest rated HYS comment of all time...

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 31.

    For those members and citizens that would like to see a more federalised Europe, this is a great plan. My only question would be, why wasn't this done sooner? Why did the EU spend years trying to treat the symptoms and not the cause which was a deeply flawed system of economic governance? Hopefully now Europe's economies will gradually be able to synchronise.

 

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