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Banking Nationalism on the Road to Banking Union


  • Rachel A. Epstein
  • Martin Rhodes


European states have a long history of banking sector nationalism. Control over credit allocation is believed to contribute to economic development and competitiveness goals, insulation from external economic shocks, and control over monetary policy. This paper explains the potentially dramatic loss in domestic control over banks created by the European Banking Union (EBU). First, we argue that ongoing liberalization in the global and European economies has made banking sector protectionism both more costly and conflictual. Second, we contend that because many of the biggest banks have internationalized their operations, they now prefer centralized European regulation and supervision. Third, supporting a modified neofunctionalist argument, we find that behind the sometimes frenetic intergovernmental bargaining in 2012-14, it is primarily the European Commission and the European Central Bank that have pushed Banking Union ahead. Supranational institutions have argued, with some success, that they have unique capacity to solve collective action and prisoners’ dilemma problems. Contrary to accepted wisdom, Germany has not set or limited the Banking Union agenda to a great extent, in part because of its own internal divisions. Moreover, the Commission and the ECB have managed at critical junctures to isolate Germany to secure the country’s assent to controversial measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Rachel A. Epstein & Martin Rhodes, 2014. "Banking Nationalism on the Road to Banking Union," KFG Working Papers p0061, Free University Berlin.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:kfgxxx:p0061

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David Schäfer, 2016. "A Banking Union of Ideas? The Impact of Ordoliberalism and the Vicious Circle on the EU Banking Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 961-980, July.
    2. P. Butzen & S. Cheliout & H. Geeroms, 2014. "Lessons from the US for the institutional design of EMU," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue ii, pages 82-101, September.
    3. Schäfer, David, 2016. "A banking union of ideas? The impact of ordoliberalism and the vicious circle on the EU banking union," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65875, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Elena Seghezza, 2016. "L’attribuzione della vigilanza bancaria alla BCE: un approccio di political economy," ECONOMIA E DIRITTO DEL TERZIARIO, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(3), pages 423-438.

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    supranationalism; protectionism; regulation; fiscal policy; European Central Bank; European Commission;
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