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Dijsselbloem joins euro bank-failure talks as time runs short

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem will join negotiations with the European Parliament in a last-ditch bid to broker a deal on a euro-area bank-failure bill.

Dijsselbloem and his Greek counterpart, Yannis Stournaras, will begin talks with top parliament lawmakers at 3 p.m. in Brussels on Wednesday, with all key points still open on creating a Single Resolution Mechanism to handle failing euro-area banks. The meeting is the last scheduled before a March 26 deadline set by Greece, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

“Finding an agreement on the SRM is our absolute priority,” Michel Barnier, the bloc’s financial-services chief, told legislators on Tuesday. “We have enough elements in play to reach a deal tomorrow.” Barnier will also take part in the meeting.

The SRM is part of an EU effort to prevent future financial crises by pooling responsibility for euro-area banks, a project known as banking union. A blueprint put forward last year by Barnier would create a central resolution board backed by a 55 billion-euro ($77 billion) fund financed by industry levies. If the law’s not passed before European elections in May, a delay of a year or more could ensue, according to EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

Greece has said that March 26 is the last day a deal could be reached and still be processed in time for the texts to be voted on in April at the assembly’s last plenary session before the election.

ECB Executive Board member Yves Mersch said last week that not having the SRM “would be very close to suicide.” The ECB assumes full oversight of euro-area banks in November. “I don’t underestimate the difficulty of the subject, also in view of some constitutional constraints that might exist in some countries,” he said.

Barnier said Tuesday that “banking union cannot function correctly in the absence of a Single Resolution Mechanism alongside European-level supervision.”

The EU Parliament and the bloc’s finance ministers proposed competing visions of SRM in December. They’re now haggling over a compromise text of the bill, which both must approve.

Dijsselbloem and Stournaras will lead the negotiating team representing EU member states. The parliament’s team is led by Portuguese lawmaker Elisa Ferreira.

The EU assembly has challenged an array of changes made by governments to Barnier’s blueprint for for SRM, including steps to give national governments and national regulators more power in the system, a move that lawmakers claim will make the SRM too convoluted to be effective.

Lawmakers are also calling for the planned fund to be effective from day one of the SRM, and are opposed to a plan put forward by governments to pool the money steadily from national compartments over ten years.

[Bloomberg]

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday March 19, 2014 (14:43)  
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