ECB urges euro zone to share bank rescue costs

FRANKFURT Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:54am EDT

The Euro sculpture is pictured in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt January 24, 2012. REUTERS/Lmar Niazman

The Euro sculpture is pictured in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt January 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lmar Niazman

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Central Bank called on authorities to set up a body to manage bank rescues in the euro zone, marking the central bank's strongest intervention yet in the debate on whether the costs of bailing out troubled banks should be shared.

Having been firmly rebuffed by key euro zone members so far during the debt crisis, the idea of a rescue fund that would cover all banks in the currency bloc is now gaining traction as policymakers begin to suspect it may be the only way of snuffing out investors' fears about the bloc's fragile banks.

"The case for strengthening banking supervision and resolution at a euro area level has become much clearer (as a result of the crisis)," ECB President Mario Draghi said at a conference on financial integration.

"Work on this would be most helpful at the current juncture," he added.

The bank's vice president, Vitor Constancio, laid out the ECB's priorities.

"The sequence now is to go as much as possible for a pan- European resolution regime that is harmonised," he said.

"Also for the biggest systemically relevant banks, there are around 36 big banks, we really need a resolution fund, because that is the only way of overcoming the very thorny question of burden sharing in a crisis."

Nadia Calvino, number two in the European Commission's Internal Markets and Services department, noted the long-held resistance to the idea of sharing the costs of bank bailouts and wind downs but added that "maybe the mood was changing."

(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Erica Billingham)