The European Commission has called for a mass overhaul of the current banking system in the Eurozone. It involves the European Central Bank being allowed to monitor banks in each of the 17 countries that use the euro. This in an attempt to deal with the monetary crisis in the Eurozone.

The European Central Bank (ECB) was created in 1998 prior to the adoption of the euro as common currency for Europe.The ECB’s current role is setting interest rates and printing money, but this proposition would expand its power to allowing the institution to monitor banks more closely in their everyday business practices.  There are staunch supporters as well as those who oppose this proposal for many different reasons.

The opposition includes some non-Eurozone countries that are concerned with the effect that this banking union would have on their banks. For instance Sweden and Denmark are concerned with having to bail out weak Eurozone banks or having to relinquish some of their power to run their own banks. These non-eurozone countries do not want to weaken “national supervision”, and this banking union proposal has caused some countries to re-consider adopting the euro as currency. Moreover some EU officials are apprehensive about the ECB being able to dictate the direction of banking policy and legislation surrounding those policies, and whether or not expanding the powers will actually help.   Some member states want to “keep them {ECB} at arms length as it’s none of their business”.

In contrast some support the expansion of the ECB’s power because of the institutions budgetary reforms and steadfastness during the fiscal crisis.  For instance,  Jörg Asmussen believes that ECB’s approach was necessary but that there must be controls subject to parliamentary and judicial review, and that it’s difficult to have a common currency without common fiscal policies. In addition France’s Financial Minister, Pierre Moscovici, does not think issues surrounding the banking union will prevent the legislation from being passed before the end of this year.

Either way the heads of European Parliament and Council have to approve this legislation before any major changes can take effect, and it seems that this will be a hard fought battle whatever the outcome may be in the end.

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