European monetary system and european currency

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5. Against this background, let me now describe the institutional framework currently adopted by the Treaty. As my description will refer to the area in which both the single market and the single currency are established, it will not specially focus on the problems of the so-called "pre-in" countries, including the United Kingdom.

The current institutional framework of EMU (i.e. the single market plus the single currency) is a construct composed of two building blocks: national competence and co-operation. Let me first briefly review the main aspects of these two building blocks and then see how the Eurosystem relates to them.

First, national competence. In a market based on the minimum harmonisation and the mutual recognition of national regulatory standards and practices, the principle of "home country control" applies. According to this principle every bank has the right to do business in the whole area using a single licence, under the supervision, and following the rules, of the authority that has issued the licence. The full supervisory responsibility thus belongs to the "home country". This allows, inter alia, the certain identification of the supervisor responsible for each institution acting as a counterparty to the monetary policy operations of the Eurosystem. The only exception to this principle - the "host country" competence for the supervision of liquidity of foreign branches - is no longer justified now that the euro is in place; hence it should soon be removed.

Second, co-operation. In a highly regulated industry such as banking, a single market that retains a plurality of "local" (national) supervisors requires close co-operation among supervisors to safeguard the public good: namely, openness, competition, safety and soundness of the banking industry. EU directives (the 1st and 2nd Banking Directives and the so-called BCCI Directive) lay the foundations for such co-operation, but they do not contain specific provisions or institutional arrangements to this end. They limit themselves to stating the principle of co-operation among national authorities and to removing obstacles to the exchange of information among them.

6. How does the Eurosystem relate to this construction? Essentially in two ways. First, the Treaty assigns to the Eurosystem the task to "contribute to the smooth conduct of policies pursued by competent authorities relating to the prudential supervision of credit institutions and the stability of the financial system" (Article 105 (5)). Given the separation between monetary and supervisory jurisdictions, this provision is clearly intended to ensure a smooth interplay between the two. Second, the Treaty gives the Eurosystem a twofold (consultative and advisory) role in the rule-making process. According to Article 105 (4), the ECB must be consulted on any draft Community and national legislation in the fields of banking supervision and financial stability; and, according to Article 25 (1) of its Statute, the ECB can provide, on its own initiative, advice on the scope and implementation of the Community legislation in these fields. It should be borne in mind that central banks are normally involved in the process of drawing up legislation relating to, for example, regulatory standards, safety net arrangements and supervision since this legislation contributes crucially to the attainment of financial stability.

7. Two observations should be made about the institutional framework just described. First, such an arrangement establishes a double separation between central banking and banking supervision: not only a geographical, but also a functional one. This is the case because for the euro area as a whole banking supervision is now entrusted to institutions that have no independent monetary policy functions. The separation approach that was chosen for EMU has effectively been applied not only to the euro area as a whole, but to its components as well. Indeed, even in countries where the competent authority for banking supervision is the central bank, by definition this authority is, functionally speaking, no longer a central bank, as it lacks the key central banking task of autonomously controlling money creation.

The second observation is that the Treaty itself establishes (in Article 105 (6)) a simplified procedure that makes it possible, without amending the Treaty, to entrust specific supervisory tasks to the ECB. If such a provision were to be activated, both the geographical and the functional separation would be abandoned at once. The fact that the Maastricht Treaty allows the present institutional framework to be reconsidered without recourse to the very heavy amendment procedure (remember that such procedure requires an intergovernmental conference, ratification by national parliaments, sometimes even a national referendum) is a highly significant indication that the drafters of the Treaty clearly understood the anomaly of the double separation and saw the potential difficulties arising from it. The simplified procedure they established could be interpreted as a "last resort clause", which might become necessary if the interaction between the Eurosystem and national supervisory authorities turned out not to work effectively.

Реферат опубликован: 12/08/2008