EMU: Holding the Supervisor to Account

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In 2014, the European Central Bank (ECB) became responsible for banking supervision in the euro area in the framework of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM). To balance the expansion of ECB powers beyond monetary policy, new accountability obligations were created. At the political level, the relationship with the European Parliament (EP) was placed front and centre.

In this paper, Adina Maricut-Akbik examines the accountability interactions between ECB Banking Supervision and the EP in the first 4.5 years since the establishment of the SSM. The analysis shows a poor track record of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in asking relevant questions to the ECB, as well as a problematic format of public hearings of the Chair of the Supervisory Board. At the same time, there is tension between the subject of questions raised most often—regarding the situation at specific banks—and the professional secrecy requirements of the SSM legal framework, which keep individual supervisory decisions confidential.

For its part, ECB Banking Supervision demonstrated openness to engage with questions concerning the organisation and decision-making procedures of the SSM. What is rarely contested, however, is the performance of the ECB as a bank supervisor, for which there are no measurable indicators that could be assessed by MEPs and the public at large.

 

The research behind this policy paper was conducted within the framework of the LEVIATHAN project ’Legal and Political Accountability in ‘Post-Crisis’ EU Economic Governance’ (2017–2021), led by Professor Mark Dawson and hosted at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. The project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no 716923). Adina Maricut-Akbik is Postdoctoral Researcher on the LEVIATHAN project. Contact: maricut-akbik@hertie-school.org.