EU Roadmap to Fiscal, Bank Union Runs Into German Rebuff
The 10-year road map, released today by four officials led by European Union President Herman Van Rompuy, centered on common banking supervision and deposit insurance and a “criteria-based and phased” move toward joint debt issuance. It also suggests that the EU could impose upper limits on annual budgets and debt levels of nations that use the euro.
“Parts of it read like a wish list,” German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Link told reporters in Luxembourg. The proposals lean “toward various models for mutualizing debt. What comes up short is improved controls,” he said.
Germany’s instant opposition lessened the chances that a June 28-29 summit -- the 19th since the debt crisis broke out in early 2010 -- will point the way out of the turmoil that threatens to splinter the euro currency.
Van Rompuy collaborated on the proposals with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, European Commission President Jose Barroso and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who manages meetings of euro finance ministers.
Banking supervision in the euro area could be entrusted to the ECB, under a provision in the EU’s treaty that allows member nations to give the central bank more oversight of all financial institutions except insurance companies. The report envisions an EU-wide deposit-insurance program, to “strengthen credibility” of existing national backstops, as well as financial sector- funded scheme for winding down banks.
Broad deposit guarantees would require a “solid financial backstop,” the report said. Within the euro area, the 500- billion-euro ($625 billion) European Stability Mechanism could stand behind deposit insurance guarantees and the resolution fund for shutting failing banks.
Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said the discussion about introducing a banking union in the euro area can’t take place without it being part of the debate on fiscal union. He said the currency bloc’s politicians need more serious discussion of sharing sovereignty.
“It makes little sense to single out the banking sector when talking about mutualization of debt, without taking the rest into account,” Weidmann, who also sits on the ECB’s Governing Council, said in Hamburg yesterday. “It’s important that a banking union doesn’t lead to euro bonds by the back door.”
Van Rompuy’s report stopped short of proposing a binding calendar for a switch to joint borrowing, saying that any debt- sharing system would have to go along with tighter management of national budgets.
“Steps toward the introduction of joint and several sovereign liabilities could be considered as long as a robust framework for budgetary discipline and competitiveness is in place to avoid moral hazard and foster responsibility and compliance,” according to the document.
Shared bills and common pay-down efforts are among the options for moving toward joint borrowing, the report said. Options include “the pooling of some short-term funding instruments on a limited and conditional basis, or the gradual roll-over into a redemption fund,” the report said.
More centralized decision making would require nations to seek approval before issuing government debt beyond agreed-upon limits. Countries that violate fiscal rules could be required to make changes, the report said.
Van Rompuy said this week’s summit needs to give the go- ahead to forge detailed proposals by December. An interim report could be presented in October as the EU works on a “specific and time-bound road map” toward a “genuine” economic and monetary union.
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