(Adds German finance minister quote)
BRUSSELS Dec 12 Germany signalled it was ready
to back plans for the European Central Bank to be made the chief
supervisor of banks, raising the prospect of a breakthrough on
the European Union's most ambitious financial reform.
EU finance ministers were meeting in Brussels on Wednesday
to try to strike a deal on the banking union.
Following are comments from ministers and officials ahead of
GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE
ON BANKING UNION:
"We think that we have a good chance to reach a deal today
and we have committed to design a legal framework to a banking
union before the end of the year."
"My intention is that we find a solution to the banking
union on time, before Christmas."
ON SEPARATION OF POWERS AT THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK (ECB):
"The independence of the ECB is such a valued commodity that
we need a clear separation between bank supervision and monetary
"We have a lot of experience with this in Germany."
"We have written proposals on how we can achieve this
(separation) without treaty change."
"It would be best to have limited treaty change but that
doesn't happen overnight. That is why we have taken up the
proposal from our Swedish colleague at the summit before last.
That is to say that we will have an interim solution and when we
have treaty change we can find a better solution."
"For those countries who do not want to participate, we will
find a satisfying solution inside the European Banking Authority
(EBA). That is the prerequisite for finding a solution, in the
end we all have to be unanimous."
"No European bank watchdog can oversee all 6,000 banks.
Nobody wants that and we all know that we don't need to over-
interpret too many conflicts in this question."
"It's indisputable that the European supervisor can, with
good reason, take on the supervision of an individual bank."
"Systemically relevant banks come under the European
supervisor and then we need to establish where the cut-off point
"But because we want to give the European supervisor the
right to take on the supervision of banks in individual cases,
or to do this at the request from a country, I think the
conflict is not so difficult."
FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER PIERRE MOSCOVICI
ON MINIMUM ASSET LEVEL FOR BANKS UNDER DIRECT ECB
"Thirty billion (euros) is fine with me, but no higher. If I
take the example of the French banks it's not the systemic banks
that pose a problem... If the threshold is too high, banks that
we need to supervise will slip through the net."
"I agree we should be pragmatic, that there are thresholds,
that there are roles for both the ECB and the national
supervisors but on two conditions: that the thresholds are not
too high and two that the European Central Bank has the main
"The French and German positions are closer than they've
been, and I think that they can get closer. But we are not
SPANISH ECONOMY MINISTER LUIS DE GUINDOS
"We hope to have a deal today, we have made a lot of
progress. We have a mandate from leaders to reach a deal. We
need to establish different organs for supervision and monetary
policy in the ECB. It is very important to send a message that
we have a plan."
SWEDISH FINANCE MINISTER ANDERS BORG
ON AGREEMENT ON BANKING UNION:
"We could see an agreement today, but that's on the
prerequisite that we would have a good compromise on EBA
(European Banking Authority) rules so that we have safeguards
against being dominated by the ECB as supervisor.
"From our perspective, it is very likely that we would have
a deal on the banking union today."
ON PROSPECTS FOR SWEDEN TO JOIN BANKING UNION:
"Sweden are not likely to join the banking union. We don't
think it is likely we will achieve an equal treatment. We don't
think that we have the safeguards when it comes to the Swedish
banks and the Swedish taxpayers not being responsible for
banking mistakes in other countries."
ON DIVISIONS WITHIN EUROPEAN UNION:
Agreement on banking union would be a "sad day for Europe".
"It would mean that we would be more divided after this day
than before... There is a move now towards eurobanks, eurotaxes,
euro transfers, euro commission.
"We think (those are) steps in the wrong direction. It might
be very popular among the eurocrats, but I think there are very
few Europeans actually wanting these developments."
(Reporting by Claire Davenport, Leigh Thomas, Robin Emmott and
John O'Donnell; compiled by Rex Merrifield)