December 10, 2012 / 3:18 PM / 5 years ago

ECB needs safeguards to supervise banks - Coene

BRUSSELS, Dec 10 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank can act as a supervisor for banks in the currency bloc as long as there are Chinese walls in place, said Luc Coene, the governor of the central bank of Belgium, which already supervises its banks.

ECB policymakers are at odds on the bank supervision issue, and earlier this month Germany and France clashed over it, deepening a dispute over the scope of ECB powers that threatens to derail one of Europe's boldest reforms.

"We are doing prudential supervision in the national bank of Belgium. As governor I am also in the Governing Council and have to decide on monetary policy there, so nobody has ever seen a conflict there," Coene told a briefing to announce the central bank's economic forecasts for Belgium.

"I don't see really where the conflict would be in the case of the ECB provided of course there are some Chinese walls," he said, referring to an information barrier between different parts of an organisation.

Belgium's central bank took over responsibility for supervising its banks last year.

"The experience we have in this field is rather positive that there is a lot of cross fertilisation that can take place between the two sides and that is rather interesting."

Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann called at the weekend for a change to the European constitution in order to avoid any conflict of interest between the ECB's monetary policy and planned new supervisory duties.

"I cannot see how with the current legal framework we can transfer supervisory duties to the ECB. A clean legal solution would require a change to the constitution," he told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper in an interview.

Such a change would require extra time and could delay the introduction of an EU-wide banking union. But Weidmann added: "If politicians really want a banking union, then they will be able to make the necessary political decisions swiftly."

However, European Union president Cyprus said in a draft compromise aimed at easing German concerns that the ECB might only supervise euro zone banks on a day-to-day basis if they had assets of more than 30 billion euros. [ID: nL5E8NA88U] (Reporting By Ben Deighton; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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