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The Single Supervisory Mechanism: A Sound First Step in Europe’s Banking Union? Egmont European Affairs Paper, March 2013

Verhelst, Stijn (2013) The Single Supervisory Mechanism: A Sound First Step in Europe’s Banking Union? Egmont European Affairs Paper, March 2013. [Working Paper]

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    The financial and economic crisis has hit Europe in its core. While the crisis may not have originated in the European Union, it has laid bare structural weaknesses in the EU’s policy framework. Both public finances and the banking sector have been heavily affected. For a long time, the EU failed to take into account sufficiently the perverse link that existed between the two. Negative evolutions in one field of the crisis often dragged along the other in its downward spiral. In June 2012, in the early hours of a yet another EU Summit, the leaders of the eurozone finally decided to address the link between the banking and sovereign debt crises. Faced with soaring public borrowing costs in Spain and Italy, they decided to allow for the direct European recapitalisation of banks when the Member State itself would no longer be in a position to do so. In exchange, supervision of the banking sector would be lifted to the European level by means of a Single Supervisory Mechanism. The Single Supervisory Mechanism, or SSM in the EU jargon, is a first step in the broader revision of policies towards banks in Europe. The eventual goal is the creation of a Banking Union, which is to carry out effective surveillance and – if needed – crisis management of the banking sector. The SSM is to rely on national supervisors and the ECB, with the ECB having final authority on the matter. The involvement of the latter made it clear that the SSM would be centred on the eurozone – while it is to remain open to other Member States willing to join. Due to the ongoing problems and the link between the creation of the SSM and the recapitalisation of banks, the SSM became one of the key legislative priorities of the EU. In December 2012, Member States reached an agreement on the design of the SSM. After discussions with the European Parliament (which were still ongoing at the time of writing), the process towards making the SSM operational can be initiated. The goal is to have the SSM fully up and running in the first half of 2014. The decisions that were taken in June 2012 are likely to have had a bigger impact than the eurozone’s Heads of State and Government could have realised at the time for two important reasons. On the one hand, creating the SSM necessitates a full Banking Union and therefore shared risk. On the other hand, the decisions improved the ECB’s perception of the willingness of governments to take far-reaching measures. This undoubtedly played a significant role in the creation of the Outright Monetary Transactions programme by the ECB, which has led to a substantial easing of the crisis in the short-term. 1 These short-term gains should now be matched with a stable long-term framework for bank supervision and crisis management. The agreement on the SSM should be the first step in the direction of this goal. This paper provides an analysis of the SSM and its role in the creation of a Banking Union. The paper starts with a reminder of why the EU decided to put in place the SSM (§1) and the state of play of the ongoing negotiations on the SSM (§2). Subsequently, the supervisory responsibilities of the SSM are detailed, including its scope and the division of labour between the national supervisors and the ECB (§3). The internal functioning of the SSM (§4) and its relation to the other supervisors are discussed afterwards (§5). As mentioned earlier, the SSM is part of a wider move towards a Banking Union. Therefore, this paper sheds light on the other building blocks of this ambitious project (§6). The transition towards the Banking Union is important and will prove to be a bumpy ride. Before formulating a number of conclusions, this Working Paper therefore provides an overview of the planned road ahead (§7).

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    Item Type: Working Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > economic and financial affairs > Single Market > capital, goods, services, workers
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > economic and financial affairs > financial crisis 2008-on/reforms/economic governance
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Egmont : Royal Institute for International Affairs > European Affairs
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2014 10:36
    Number of Pages: 44
    Last Modified: 14 Oct 2014 10:56

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