Opinion piece

Europe’s radical banking union

Bruegel scholar Nicolas Véron argues in this thought-provoking essay that banking union ultimately enabled the European Central Bank’s announcement th

Publishing date
05 May 2015
Nicolas Véron

Banking Union, even in its current incomplete form, is the single biggest structural policy success of the EU since the start of the financial crisis. This essay presents the sequence of events that led to its inception in late June 2012 and takes stock on its current status of implementation and prospects.

The essay argues forcefully that the political decision to initiate banking union was the decisive factor behind the ECB’s OMT programme, which put an end to the most acute phase of the euro area crisis, and that it also enabled the shift in the European approach to banking crisis resolution from bail-out to bail-in, which was prevented by the earlier policy framework of national banking supervision. In this sense, the banking union decision of mid-2012 was the crucial and largely unrecognized turning point of the entire euro area crisis.

The transfer of supervisory authority over all euro-area banks to the ECB, effective since last November, marks a profound change and is already resulting in more rigorous and consistent supervision.

After a few years of transition, the banking union framework can be expected to lead to a better integrated, more diverse and more resilient European financial system. It will also enhance European influence in shaping global banking regulatory standards and policies.

About the authors

  • Nicolas Véron

    Nicolas Véron is a senior fellow at Bruegel and at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC. His research is mostly about financial systems and financial reform around the world, including global financial regulatory initiatives and current developments in the European Union. He was a cofounder of Bruegel starting in 2002, initially focusing on Bruegel’s design, operational start-up and development, then on policy research since 2006-07. He joined the Peterson Institute in 2009 and divides his time between the US and Europe.

    Véron has authored or co-authored numerous policy papers that include banking supervision and crisis management, financial reporting, the Eurozone policy framework, and economic nationalism. He has testified repeatedly in front of committees of the European Parliament, national parliaments in several EU member states, and US Congress. His publications also include Smoke & Mirrors, Inc.: Accounting for Capitalism, a book on accounting standards and practices (Cornell University Press, 2006), and several books in French.

    His prior experience includes working for Saint-Gobain in Berlin and Rothschilds in Paris in the early 1990s; economic aide to the Prefect in Lille (1995-97); corporate adviser to France’s Labour Minister (1997-2000); and chief financial officer of MultiMania / Lycos France, a publicly-listed online media company (2000-2002). From 2002 to 2009 he also operated an independent Paris-based financial consultancy.

    Véron is a board member of the derivatives arm (Global Trade Repository) of the Depositary Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), a financial infrastructure company that operates globally on a not-for-profit basis. A French citizen born in 1971, he has a quantitative background as a graduate from Ecole Polytechnique (1992) and Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (1995). He is trilingual in English, French and Spanish, and has fluent understanding of German and Italian.

    In September 2012, Bloomberg Markets included Véron in its second annual 50 Most Influential list with reference to his early advocacy of European banking union.


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