Banking union:a solution to the euro zone crisis ?
The banking union emerged from the June 2012 European Council as a new project expected to help and solve the euro area crisis. Is banking union a necessary supplement to monetary union or a new rush forward? The banking union would break the link between the sovereign debt crisis and the banking crisis, by asking the ECB to supervise banks, establishing common mechanisms to solve banking crises, and encouraging banks to diversify their activities. The banking union project is based on three pillars: a Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), a Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) a European Deposit Guarantee Scheme. Each of these pillars raises specific problems. Some are related to the current crisis (can deposits in euro area countries facing difficulties be guaranteed?); some other are related to the EU complexity (should the banking union include all EU member states? Who will decide on banking regulations?),some other are related to the EU specificity (is the banking union a step towards more federalism?), the more stringent are related to structural choices regarding the European banking system. The banks' solvency and their ability to lend would primarily depend on their capital ratios, and thus on financial markets' sentiment. The links between the government, firms, households and domestic banks would be cut, which is questionnable. Will governments be able tomorrow to intervene to influence bank lending policies, or to settle specific public banks? An opposite strategy could be promoted: restructuring the banking sector, and isolating retail banking activity from risky activities. Retail banks would focus on lending to domestic agents, and their solvency would be guaranteed because they would not be allowed to run risky activity.Can European peoples leave such strategic choices in the hands of the ECB?
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