ECB chief Trichet 'stands ready' for supervisory powers

Europe's central bank is ready to be a supervisor, according to the ECB chief

FRANKFURT - Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), told the European parliament yesterday that his institution was ready to take up the mantle of supervisory power in Europe. Trichet said it would be relatively easy to transfer supervisory responsibility to the eurozone's monetary authority to help prevent future financial crises.

The ECB chief's comments come after increased speculation about the role the ECB could play as a future EU super regulator. February will see the publication of a report from former French central bank governor Jacques de Larosiere, who is chairman of an expert committee mandated by the European Commission to draw up proposals for the future EU financial regulatory system.

Trichet's remarks echoed those already made by ECB vice-president Lucas Papademos to German magazine Wirtschaftswoche on January 3 (see OpRisk & Compliance, January 2009). Francisco González, chairman of Spanish bank BBVA, also suggested this month that an ECB-based solution would be desirable.

Larosiere's alternatives for creating a new supervisory institution revolve around the system of supervisory colleges for European banks, or extending the powers of the Level 3 committees designed for regulatory discussion. These are the London-based Committee of European Banking Supervisors, the Paris-based Committee of European Securities Regulators and the Frankfurt-based Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors.

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