ECONOMY

ECB’s Asmussen wants single bank supervision, resolution next year

European Central Bank policymaker Joerg Asmussen threw his weight behind demands by France and the European Commission for the swift establishment of a single supervisory authority and resolution regime for eurozone banks next year.

“We want a single European resolution regime, together with a single resolution agency and a single resolution fund that is financed by a levy from the banking industry. This should come into place in parallel with the single supervisory mechanism hopefully by the summer of next year,” Asmussen told reporters ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.

“What we want to do, as the ECB, is do a thorough asset quality review of the banks that will be supervised by us,” the ECB Executive Board member said.

The comments set him at odds with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who says that EU treaties provide a basis for the new single banking supervisor but not for a central resolution authority to restructure or wind up failed banks.

To establish such a new authority, European Union treaties would need to be changed, Schaeuble has said. This process could take years and is likely to be risky because the revised treaty needs to be ratified in 27 EU parliaments.

Schaeuble has argued that to have a banking union “of sorts” and avoid treaty change, the European Union could stick for now to the intermediate stage of a coordinated network of national resolution authorities, rather than one pan-EU resolution authority.

Most euro zonecountries and institutions believe a full banking union, which would help deal with banking crises, is needed urgently to restore investor confidence.

“I hope to make some progress (on banking union),” Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup chief Jeroen Djisselbloem said ahead of the meeting of finance ministers.

“I’m sure we won’t be finalizing it today. That would be hoping too much. It’s very important to move forward on the banking union and this is one of the first steps to take.”

European Union leaders committed to a banking union last June but deep cracks have since emerged, with Germany in particular raising doubts about its overall feasibility.

The first step – to create a single bank supervisor under the ECB – looks set to be in place by mid-2014. But the creation of the second pillar – an EU resolution agency to close failed banks — has been thrown into doubt by the German demand for treaty change.

There is now also little prospect that a third leg, a single deposit guarantee scheme, will ever see the light of day. [Reuters]