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EU to Propose Single Supervisor for All Banks, Barnier Says

A single supervisor for banks called for by euro-area leaders last month should oversee all lenders in the bloc, not only those deemed to be systemically important, Michel Barnier said.

The new supervisory mechanism should be in place by the end of the year as part of plans for a banking union to help tame the euro debt crisis, Barnier, the EU’s internal market commissioner, said at a hearing in Brussels today. The body should, at a minimum, supervise banks in all 17 countries that use the single currency, he said.

“I think it will need to cover all banks, of course,” Barnier told lawmakers in the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee. Responsibilities could be delegated to national regulators through decentralization, he said.

Euro leaders said on June 29 that it’s “imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns.” To this end, they said that once a single supervisor, involving the European Central Bank, is established, the euro area’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, could recapitalize banks directly.

Leaders called on the European Commission to present proposals for a single bank supervisor “shortly.” Barnier said the commission will unveil its plan in September.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy has said the banking union should also include pooling of national bank-deposit guarantee programs and mutualizing funds to stabilize failing lenders.

The commission will seek to deliver this in part by amending existing legislative proposals, Barnier has said. The commission is also reflecting on the best way to empower a single authority to manage failing banks.

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