The financial and economic crises have led to an enormous plumbing exercise, involving a fundamental re-design of the global and European regulatory and supervisory system. Karel Lannoo’s new book The Great Financial Plumbing systematically assesses the big items on the G-20 and EU agendas and the effectiveness with which they have been implemented in the EU. Its publication coincides with the demand by European Commissioner Jonathan Hill, in the context of the Capital Markets Union, for a 'comprehensive review' of the impact and coherence of EU legislation in the area of financial services.
Karel Lannoo argues in the book that much has been done by European policy-makers to make the financial system safer and to prevent banking crises of the magnitude that erupted in 2008 and 2011. But he finds that the new framework puts an enormous burden on banks and supervisors to implement and enforce it correctly. With the huge amount of secondary or 'level-2' legislation in place, this process has spiralled out of control, and as member states always find new ways of ‘gold-plating’ EU rules, the EU always finds further reasons to achieve a 'single rulebook'. This process has to be brought to a halt, and mutual recognition, a basic single market principle, reinforced.
The new framework also brings huge advantages, which should offer benefits to all parties. Banking Union is a huge step forward, which introduces 'one-stop shopping' for banks in the eurozone, another basic single market principle, and a true single supervisor. The clarity of the new resolution framework should, if correctly applied, trigger early intervention and bring an end to forbearance, thereby enforcing market discipline in the banking sector. It should also avoid reliance on taxpayers' money to bail-out banks in trouble, which totalled 14% of EU GDP during the crisis.