Fabian Demicoli

MEUSAC: Ambassador of Malta to the EU / discusses Banking Union


GRTU has today attended the MEUSAC Core
Group meeting as member and was pleased to be addressed together with the other
Core Group members present by the new Ambassador of Malta to the EU Ms Marlene
Bonnici. Ms Bonnici explained how the system of representing Malta's position
works and the various entities involved and particularly emphasized how important
the involvement of the social partners and civil society was in ensuring that
Malta's position does reflect the interest of Malta and therefore that
interests of members are presented and discussed.

The Ambassador explained how
complicated and intensive the work carried out in Brussels is and what a task
it was for her office in Brussels, MEUSAC and the line Ministries as well as
other entities to not only communicate what is going on but communicate in a
way that is understood and carry out a consultation Ms Bonnici continued saying
how much she is learning in her new job on the multitude of subject she is
touching with and on both the formal and informal lobbying methods.

The second subject on the agenda was
the Commission proposal on the Banking Union. The position held by the EU is
that simple coordination is no longer enough – closer supervision and
integration is now needed at EU level to avoid future banking crises, restore
confidence in the financial system and protect savers. Prof Joseph Bannister,
chairman of the MFSA, stated that a banking union was in need and we wanted it
earlier however certain aspects of it are very concerning.

While banks have been operating
increasingly across borders, oversight of their activities has remained
national. A shared currency and close financial integration make the eurozone
particularly vulnerable to banking crises spilling over from one EU country to
another. The solution, the Commission believes, is greater supervision at EU
level. Three supervisory bodies  were
already set up in 2011 to help coordinate the work of national regulators and
ensure EU rules are applied consistently.

Professor Banister outlined that one of
the concerns was related to sovereignty where the European Central Bank (ECB)
would be gaining new powers to monitor the performance of the 6 000 or so banks
in the eurozone. The arrangement would be known as the single supervisory
mechanism. The ECB would take over tasks such as authorising banks and other
credit institutions, ensuring they have enough (liquid) capital to continue
operating even when sustaining losses and monitoring the activities of
financial conglomerates. If a bank breaches – or is at risk of breaching –
capital requirements, the ECB would be able to ask the bank to take corrective
action. National supervisors would meanwhile continue to carry out day-to-day
checks.

Prof Banister stated this would mean
the ECB would be allowed to walk into the national banks anytime to investigate.
This is not a procedure we are used to and would create panic and confusion.
The ECB on its own can also decide to close a bank.

The Commission is planning for the ECB
to start the process in January 2013, monitoring some of the banks that have
received or requested bailouts from the public sector. All banks would then be
supervised by January 2014. We believe however that if successful, which is
highly questionable, it will take much longer.

Malta's position is that overall supervision is necessary but
it should stop at that.

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