Open Europe Blog

Yesterday, EU finance ministers failed to reach an agreement on a single eurozone banking supervisor. Ahead of the meeting, the Cypriot Presidency put forward a new compromise proposal aimed at concluding a deal before the next EU summit on 13-14 December.

We have had a look at the latest drafts. Starting with the new voting rules within the EU-27 banking watchdog, the European Banking Authority, these are the most interesting changes proposed by the Presidency:

Voting on technical standards/end of restrictions on financial activities/EBA budget

European Commission proposal: QMV – meaning that countries outside the eurozone which do not want to join the new ECB-led Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) risk being in permanent minority

Cypriot Presidency proposal:
QMV stays, but it must include at least a simple majority of countries participating in the SSM (say at least nine, assuming that only eurozone countries join the SSM) and a simple majority of countries not participating in the SSM (say at least six, assuming that none of the non-eurozone countries joins the SSM)

This goes in the right direction, although we proposed going one step further and having all decisions in this group adopted by ‘double QMV’ – i.e. a qualified majority of participating countries and a qualified majority of non-participating countries.

Voting on breaches of EU law/dispute settlement

European Commission proposal: An independent panel (composed of three people) takes a decision. The decision is considered as automatically adopted unless it is rejected by a simple majority of member states – including at least three countries participating in the SSM and three countries not participating in the SSM

Cypriot Presidency proposal: A larger independent panel (composed of seven people) takes a decision. The decision is considered as automatically adopted unless it is rejected by a simple majority of member states participating in the SSM and a simple majority of member states not participating in the SSM

And here is where the main problems with the Presidency’s proposal lie, according to us:

  •  A larger panel is good in principle. However, the proposal fails to specify how many of the seven members should be from countries not participating in the SSM;
  •  Even assuming a three ‘ins’ + three ‘outs’ + the Chairperson composition of the panel, decisions would still be taken by simple majority – i.e. four of seven members;
  • Overturning a decision taken by the panel becomes even more difficult under the Presidency’s proposal, given that a simple majority of ‘ins’ and a simple majority of ‘outs’ are both needed to do so. Therefore, the proposal would end up giving the independent panel (and the EBA) more power. This is why we proposed that, instead of this ‘reverse majority’ system, decisions taken by the independent panel should be confirmed by both a qualified majority of countries participating in the SSM and a qualified majority of countries not participating in the SSM.

Enough technicalities for now – we will look at the ECB Regulation in a separate blog post.

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