EU’s Barroso Urges ‘Rapid’ Agreement on Single Bank Supervisor

European Commission President Jose Barroso pressed euro-area governments to deepen financial integration to overcome the three-year-old debt crisis, saying the economic situation in Europe remains “fragile.”

Barroso said a meeting of European Union leaders on Dec. 13-14 must make good on pledges to create a single banking supervisor for the 17-nation euro. The European Central Bank is slated to take on the supervisory role.

“We must not lose the sense of urgency for action,” Barroso told the European Parliament today in Strasbourg, France. “The situation has improved but remains fragile. Complacency is not an option,” he said.

EU heads of government have committed to centralize banking supervision for the euro area, a step that the ECB and the International Monetary Fund have said is needed to untie the fates of sovereigns and their banks. EU finance ministers are due to meet this afternoon in Brussels to help pave the way for the creation of a “single supervisory mechanism.”

“Rapid political agreement” on a single supervisory mechanism and its endorsement by EU leaders at their Dec. 13-14 meeting are “crucially important,” said Barroso. “The SSM is the single most important step for the further deepening and completion of the economic and monetary union.”

The commission, the 27-nation EU’s regulatory arm in Brussels, in September proposed the creation of a single bank supervisor for the euro area. The commission proposed that the Frankfurt-based ECB become the top-level supervisor of every lender in the currency bloc.

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