Single Supervisory Mechanism
|European Union regulation:|
|Conferring specific tasks on the European Central Bank concerning policies relating to the prudential supervision of credit institutions|
|Applicability||All EU member states. However, only eurozone states and EU member states with "close cooperation agreements" (collectively referred to as participating SSM members), will become subject to the supervision tasks conferred to ECB.|
|Made by||Council of the European Union|
|Made under||Article 127(6) of the TFEU.|
|Made||15 October 2013|
|Came into force||3 November 2013|
|Implementation date||4 November 2014.|
|Status: Current legislation|
The Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is the name for the mechanism which has granted the European Central Bank (ECB) a supervisory role to monitor the financial stability of banks based in participating states, starting from 4 November 2014. Eurozone states are obliged to participate, while Member states of the European Union outside the eurozone can voluntarily participate. As of 3 November 2014[update], none of the non-eurozone member states had opted to join, although the ECB reported that some of them had expressed an interest in joining, and that talks were being held with each of them to map which changes to national legislation need to be adopted in order to become a SSM member. The SSM is the first established part of the EU banking union, and will function in conjunction to the Single Resolution Mechanism.
The Single Supervisory Mechanism was decided as part of the euro area shift towards banking union at the summit of euro area heads of state and government, in Brussels on 28-29 June 2012. In compliance with the decisions made then, the European Commission developed its proposal for a Council Regulation establishing the SSM during the summer of 2012, and published it on 12 September 2012.
The ECB "welcomed" the proposal, but Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel questioned "the capacity of ECB to monitor 6,000 banks." The vice-president of the European Commission, Olli Rehn, responded that the majority of European banks would still be monitored by national supervisory bodies, while "ECB would assume ultimate responsibility over the supervision, in order to prevent banking crises from escalating."
Some economists remained skeptical, pointing to the composition of the SSM board as an issue. The Commission proposes a board consisting of a total of 23 members, with 17 representatives of bank supervisors of member-states plus one chairman, one vice-chairman and four other members. Thus, the large majority of the SSM board would consist of national supervisors who "do not appreciate ECB interference in their daily national supervisory activities."
The European Parliament and Council agreed on the specifics of ECB oversight of eurozone banks on 19 March 2013. The Parliament voted in favour of the SSM Regulations on 12 September 2013, and the Council of the European Union gave their approval on 15 October 2013.
The SSM Regulation set 4 November 2014 as the date when the ECB would begin its supervisory role. Within the eurozone, the regulation gives the ECB responsibility for roughly 130 financial institutions with holdings of 85% of the banking assets.
The SSM will put in place a system of common bank supervision in the EU that involves national supervisors and the European Central Bank. The ECB is endowed with final supervisory authority while national supervisors are in a supporting role.
Division of labour
A division of labour has been established between the ECB and national supervisors. Banks deemed "significant" will be supervised directly by the ECB. Smaller banks will continue to be directly monitored by their national authorities, though the ECB has the authority to take over direct supervision of any bank. A bank is deemed significant when it meets one of the following 5 conditions:
- The value of its assets exceeds €30 billion.
- The value of its assets exceeds both €5 billion and 20% of the Gross Domestic Product of the member state in which it is located.
- The bank is among the three most significant banks of the country in which it is located.
- The bank has large cross-border activities.
- The bank receives, or has applied for, assistance from eurozone bailout funds (the European Stability Mechanism or European Financial Stability Facility).
Around 150 banks will be supervised directly by the ECB, representing approximately 80% of bank assets. All other banks in the SSM (more than 6.000 in the eurozone alone) will be supervised by the national supervisor, although the ECB will keep final supervisory authority over these banks.
Organisational structure in the ECB
A Supervisory Board will draft supervisory decisions. The Supervisory Board will consist of the national supervisors participating in the SSM, in addition to a chair, vice-chair and 4 ECB representatives.
After the draft decision, the formal decision is to be made by the ECB's ultimate decision-making body: the Governing Council. The Governing Council consists of the national central banks of the eurozone and the ECB's Executive Board.
A strict administrative separation is foreseen between the ECB's monetary and supervisory tasks. Final decision-making on both matters, however, takes place in the same body (the Governing Council).
Not all EU member states will participate in the SSM. Participation is automatic for eurozone states.
Since the EU treaties only give the ECB jurisdiction over eurozone states, legally it cannot enforce measures in non-eurozone state. This would prevent the ECB from effectively carrying out its supervisory role in these states. Under the European Treaties, non-eurozone countries do not have the right to vote in the ECB's Governing Council and in return are not bound by the ECB's decisions. Non-eurozone countries cannot become full members of the SSM in the sense of having the same rights and obligations as eurozone SSM members.
However, non-eurozone EU member states can enter into a "close cooperation agreement" with the ECB. The banks in that country are then supervised by the ECB and the country gains a seat in the ECB's Supervisory Board. It would allow banks in that country to be supervised by the ECB provided that they have mechanisms in place to make ECB measures binding upon national authorities. A "close cooperation" agreement can be ended by the ECB or by the participating non-eurozone member state. Participating non-eurozone states will also gain a seat on the ECB's Supervisory Board.
The procedure for non-eurozone states to join SSM through "close cooperation", regulating the timing and content of applications and how the ECB shall assess such applications and the practicalities of admitting new members, was outlined by Decision ECB/2014/510. The decision entered into force on 27 February 2014. As of 3 November 2014[update], no requests to enter into "close cooperation" have been notified in line with the prescribed procedure. Nonetheless, the ECB has received informal expressions of interest from some none-eurozone Member States, and is currently organizing bilateral meetings with them with a view to their possible entry into close cooperation arrangements.
In July 2014 the ECB confirmed that the number of SSM members would automatically grow from 18 to 19 when Lithuania changes status to become a eurozone state, effective 1 January 2015.
The ECB's monitoring regime will including conducting stress tests on financial institutions. If problems are found, the ECB will have the ability to conduct early intervention in the bank to rectify the situation, such as by setting capital or risk limits or by requiring changes in management. However, if a bank is found to be in danger of failing, the responsibility for resolving it will rest with the Single Resolution Mechanism.
Limits to supervision
A first limit to the scope of the SSM is geographical: the SSM will only cover a part of the EU member states. It will hence contribute to what is known as multi-speed Europe. A second limit is the fact that the SSM only deals with bank supervision. Supervision of the rest of the financial sector (for example insurance firms) remains a national competence. In addition, some aspects of bank supervision (for example consumer protection) remain a task for national supervisors.
ECB published its first comprehensive supervision review on 26 October 2014, covering the 130 most significant credit institutions in the 19 eurozone states (representing assets worth €22 trillion - equal to 82% of total banking assets in the eurozone), of which the 3 credit institutions from Lithuania were included only for informational purpose as they will first join SSM on 1 January 2015. The selection of the significant credit institutions being subject for the supervision and stress test, is not identical to each states selection of its domestic Systemically Important Financial Institutions.
The supervision report included:
- The results of an Asset Quality Review (AQR) - assessing capital shortfalls of each significant credit institution on 31 December 2013.
- Assessment of potential capital shortfalls when subject to a stress test based on the baseline scenario - being the latest economic forecast published by the Commission for the eurozone in 2014-16.
- Assessment of potential capital shortfalls when subject to a stress test based on an adverse scenario - which was developed by the European Systemic Risk Board in cooperation with the National Competent Authorities, the EBA and the ECB.
The EBA designed the utilized stress test methodology, where banks were required to maintain a minimum CET1 ratio of 8% under the baseline scenario (equal to the requirement for the AQR), and a minimum CET1 ratio of 5.5% under the adverse scenario. The review found, that despite identification of a need for asset value adjustments equal to €62bn, a total of 105 out of the 130 assessed banks still met each of the 3 calculated minimum capital requirements on 31 December 2013. So only a total of 25 banks were found to suffer from capital shortfalls on 31 December 2013, of which 12 had already managed to cover these capital shortfalls through raising extra CET1-capital from the markets during 2014. The remaining 13 banks still suffering from a capital shortfall, were granted 2 weeks to submit a plan for how they plan to cover it, with a final deadline for raising additional CET1-capital no later than: 30 April 2015 (if the shortfall stemmed from the AQR assessment or the baseline scenario stress test) or 31 July 2015 (if the shortfall stemmed from the adverse scenario stress test).
The table below summarizes the review results for all of the 25 banks, that were found to suffer from a capital short fall on 31 December 2013. Those 12 with a green background already raised sufficient amount of additional CET1-capital in 2014, while those 5 with a yellow background were found to have bridged their shortfall through other measures than raising additional capital (internal restructuring ensuring dynamic budget sheet gains, governmental guarantees, or retained earnings), and only the remaining 8 with a red background were required to raise additional CET1-capital.
|SSM participating banks with a CET1 capital shortfall, as of the status of its assets on 31 December 2013|
|Bank Name||State||CET1 ratio
on 31 Dec 2013
|Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena||Italy||10.2%||7.0%||6.0%||-0.1%||4.25||2.14||2.11|
|National Bank of Greece¹||Greece||10.7%||7.5%||5.7%||-0.4%||3.43||2.50||0.93|
|Cooperative Central Bank Ltd||Cyprus||-3.7%||-3.7%||-3.2%||-8.0%||1.17||1.50||0.00|
|Banco Comercial Português||Portugal||12.2%||10.3%||8.8%||3.0%||1.14||-0.01||1.15|
|Bank of Cyprus||Cyprus||10.4%||7.3%||7.7%||1.5%||0.92||1.00||0.00|
|Banca Popolare di Milano||Italy||7.3%||6.9%||6.5%||4.0%||0.68||0.52||0.17|
|Banca Popolare di Vicenza||Italy||9.4%||7.6%||7.5%||3.2%||0.68||0.46||0.22|
|Banca Piccolo Credito Valtellinese||Italy||8.8%||7.5%||6.9%||3.5%||0.38||0.42||0.00|
|Banca Popolare di Sondrio||Italy||8.2%||7.4%||7.2%||4.2%||0.32||0.34||0.00|
|AXA Bank Europe||Belgium||15.2%||14.7%||12.7%||3.4%||0.20||0.20||0.00|
|C.R.H. - Caisse de Refinancement de l’Habitat||France||5.7%||5.7%||5.7%||5.5%||0.13||0.25||0.00|
|Banca Popolare dell'Emilia Romagna||Italy||9.2%||8.4%||8.3%||5.2%||0.13||0.76||0.00|
|Nova Ljubljanska banka3||Slovenia||16.1%||14.6%||12.8%||5.0%||0.03||0.00||0.03|
|Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor3||Slovenia||19.6%||15.7%||12.8%||4.4%||0.03||0.00||0.03|
¹ These banks have a shortfall on a static balance sheet projection, but will have dynamic balance sheet projections taken into account in determining their final capital requirements.
Beside of the 25 banks found to suffer from capital shortfalls on 31 December 2013, it was expected the second biggest bank in Portugal, Banco Espírito Santo, would also have shown a capital shortfall if being analyzed. However, ECB decided to postpone the AQR and stress test for this bank, after it went into an orderly resolution and ceased to exist in August 2014 - with all its assets transferred to the Portuguese resolution fund. The resolution plan now being implemented by the resolution fund, will cause a split of the bank into a "bad bank" (holding all bad assets, to be liquidated as soon as possible) and a new continuing recapitalized bank Novo Banco (only holding the healthy assets). At the time of the published stress test, the work of splitting up the assets between the two entities had not yet been completed, and for this reason ECB decided to postpone its stress test of the continuing Novo Banco. One month later, it was announced Novo Banco had a sufficient CET1-ratio of 9.2% as of 4 August 2014 (after secretion of the toxic assets into the "bad bank"), and the resolution fund expected it would be sold as a viable bank to a new private owner during the second quarter of 2015.
In addition to ECB's AQR and stress test for the 130 most significant banks in the eurozone member states, an identical AQR and stress test was conducted and published simultaneously by the EBA - covering the 123 most significant banks across the entire European Union. National supervision authorities might also choose to publish additional stress tests. In example, Bank of England has planned to publish a different separate stress test on 16 December 2014, covering all of its 8 selected domestic SIFI's.
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