Germany and the single supervision mechanism of the banking sector in the European Union Cover Image

Stanowisko Niemiec wobec jednolitego mechanizmu nadzoru bankowego w Unii Europejskiej
Germany and the single supervision mechanism of the banking sector in the European Union

Author(s): Sebastian Płóciennik
Subject(s): Economy
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Ekonomicznego we Wrocławiu
Keywords: banking supervision; banking union; Germany

Summary/Abstract: Efforts to create a banking union in the European Union focused in 2012 primarily on the common banking supervision. It was found in particular that the joint supervision should have been located in the European Central Bank, but would cover only the largest banks of the Member States. Smaller banks would remain under the control of the existing supervision on the national level. Among the countries that strongly supported such a solution was Germany. This paper tries to analyze the reasons why Germany preferred a “split” supervision despite the significant disadvantages of such a solution. The strongest argument concerns the intention to protect the banking sector against interference by the Community authorities. The reason is its specific shape dominated by small and medium-sized financial institutions. They play a crucial role in providing financial services to the sector of medium-sized businesses, so called Mittelstand, which is the most distinct element of the Rhenish capitalism. Smaller banks have developed with these companies an almost symbiotic, long-term oriented relationship. This is why they have become universal banks offering a variety of services to a single company. This feature, highly controversial after the crisis, is defended in Germany due to tradition and lower costs generated for small companies. The preference to leave the smaller banks under the supervision of national authorities may be also explained by their specific ownership structure. Most of the small-sized banks belong to the state or are cooperatives, so it is possible to use them for the implementation of local and regional economic policy. This is not the only reason for their attractiveness to the politicians. Places in the management and supervisory boards of public banks can be an attractive instrument for personnel policy of political parties. For these reasons, the number of adherents to subordinate the medium and small banks to a supervision outside Germany, which could impeach certain practices, is quite limited. An addition argument against a centralized supervision on the EU-level is related to the functional independence of the central bank. This issue is important for Germany because of its traditional anti-inflationary macroeconomic policy orientation. Since the crisis Germany has seen the European Central Bank losing its restrictive pattern of the monetary policy based on the experience of the Bundesbank and moving towards more and more expansionary monetary policy. In this context, the ECB as a body responsible for the overall supervision of European banks could easily fall into internal conflicts with the principles of monetary policy. The last argument explaining the position of Germany on the joint supervision is the shape of its own institutions of supervision. Germany has adopted a bipolar model in which tasks are divided between the central bank and a special authority, supported by other bodies and associations of financial institutions.

  • Issue Year: 2013
  • Issue No: 25
  • Page Range: 241-259
  • Page Count: 19
  • Language: Polish