Juncker Says ECB Bank-Supervisor Head to Be French Woman

The new bank-supervision arm of the European Central Bank will be headed by a French woman, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said, furthering speculation that France’s Daniele Nouy is in line for the job.

“It will be done and she will be French,” Juncker, who chairs meetings of euro-area finance ministers, told lawmakers today at the European Parliament in Brussels. “That was agreed informally, and more or less officially,” he told reporters after the hearing without being more specific.

Le Figaro and other French media reported that Nouy, a senior official at the Bank of France, was set to take the post, which is being created as part of a move to hand the Frankfurt-based ECB oversight of all euro-area banks. Nouy is secretary-general of the Prudential Control Authority, the French central bank’s regulation arm.

European Union finance ministers reached a deal last month to put the ECB in charge of supervising all euro-area lenders in a deal that paves the way for the currency bloc’s firewall fund to provide direct bailouts to banks.

The accord marked a step toward tightening integration of the monetary union to stem the financial crisis that emerged in Greece in 2009. The policy makers’ goal was to break the link between sovereign and bank debt that has undermined confidence in Europe’s banking industry.

Supervisory Board

Ministers agreed that the new supervisor should be fully operational by March 1, 2014, with the ECB able to ask for more time if needed.

Under the deal, the head of the ECB’s planned supervisory board would be appointed by finance ministers from participating countries on the basis of an ECB proposal.

The final version of the bank-supervisor plan must be hammered out in negotiations between Ireland, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and lawmakers from the European Parliament.

The parliament has binding power over a related draft law to adjust the powers of the European Banking Authority, and is using that to seek changes to the proposals concerning the ECB.

Sven Giegold, an EU lawmaker leading work on the measures, said that he thought Juncker was referring to Nouy in his remarks.

“Parliament wants co-decision rights on the appointment and for there to be a range of candidates that can be vetted,” Giegold said by telephone.

‘Spirit of Compromise’

The assembly “wants a say in this, so at this stage she can only be a candidate.”

Giegold said that governments need to show greater willingness to compromise on aspects of the supervisory proposals and the EBA law if they want to reach a deal soon.

“We are negotiating seriously on both files. There is a long list of issues,” he said. “We need a spirit of compromise on both sides.”

Points being negotiated include what powers should be available to the EBA when it conducts stress tests of EU banks, Giegold said.

“The EBA has the mandate to do stress testing and if they don’t get the right data they should have the right to check this data by paying a visit to the national regulators,” he said. “Of course this should also apply to checks on the ECB.”

Under the EU plan, the supervisory board will be in charge of day-to-day oversight work and preparing draft decisions to be adopted by the ECB’s Governing Council.

Juncker’s announcement that the appointee will be a French woman follows complaints by the European Parliament of a lack of women in senior positions at the ECB. The dispute last year delayed the appointment of Yves Mersch to the ECB’s Executive Board.

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