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New reforms to boost resilience of European banks

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New reforms to boost resilience of European banks

Valdis Dombrovskis - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission unveiled a package of proposals Wednesday to boost the resilience of European banks against potential shocks, and to support smaller businesses and infrastructure investment.

The proposals, part of a wider reform programme of the financial regulatory system to bring back financial stability and market confidence after the financial crisis, aim to implement outstanding elements which Brussels sees as essential to reinforcing banks' ability to withstand potential shocks.

"Europe needs a strong and diverse banking sector to finance the economy.." said financial services Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis: "We need bank lending for companies to invest, remain competitive and sell into bigger markets and for households to plan ahead. Today, we have put forward new risk reduction proposals that build on the agreed global standards while taking into account the specificities of the European banking sector," he said.

The measures proposed, which should reduce risk in the banking sector, amend the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR) and the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) which were adopted in 2013 and which set out prudential requirements for credit institutions (i.e. banks) and investment firms and rules on governance and supervision;
  • The Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) and the Single Resolution Mechanism Regulation (SRMR) which were adopted in 2014 and which spell out the rules on the recovery and resolution of failing institutions and establish the Single Resolution Mechanism.

The measures implement international standards into EU law, while taking into account European specificities and avoiding undue impact on the financing of the real economy. They also take into account the results of the Call for Evidence.


The proposals include the following key elements:

1. Measures to increase the resilience of EU institutions and enhancing financial stability

The proposals incorporate the remaining elements of the regulatory framework agreed recently within the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB). They include:

  • More risk-sensitive capital requirements, in particular in the area of market risk, counterparty credit risk, and for exposures to central counterparties (CCPs);
  • Implementing methodologies that are able to reflect more accurately the actual risks to which banks are exposed;
  • A binding Leverage Ratio (LR) to prevent institutions from excessive leverage;
  • A binding Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR) to address the excessive reliance on short-term wholesale funding and to reduce long-term funding risk.
  • A requirement for Global Systemically Important Institutions (G-SIIs) to hold minimum levels of capital and other instruments which bear losses in resolution. This requirement, known as 'Total Loss-Absorbing Capacity' or TLAC), will be integrated into the existing MREL (Minimum Requirement for own funds and Eligible Liabilities) system, which is applicable to all banks, and will strengthen the EU's ability to resolve failing G-SIIs while protecting financial stability and minimising risks for taxpayers. It proposes a harmonised national insolvency ranking of unsecured debt instruments to facilitate banks' issuance of such loss absorbing debt instruments.

2. Measures to improve banks' lending capacity to support the EU economy

In particular, specific measures are proposed to:

  • Enhance the capacity of banks to lend to SMEs and to fund infrastructure projects;
  • For non-complex, small banks, reduce the administrative burden linked to some rules in the area of remuneration (namely those on deferral and remuneration using instruments, such as shares), which appear disproportionate for these banks;
  • Make CRD/CRR rules more proportionate and less burdensome for smaller and less complex institutions where some of the current disclosure, reporting and complex trading book-related requirements appear not to be justified by prudential considerations. The Call for Evidence and the analysis carried out by the Commission showed that the present framework can be applied in a more proportionate way, taking into account their specific situation.

3. Measures to further facilitate the role of banks in achieving deeper and more liquid EU capital markets to support the creation of a Capital Markets Union

Specific adjustments to the proposed measures are envisaged in order to:

  • Avoid disproportionate capital requirements for trading book positions, including those related to market-making activities;
  • Reduce the costs of issuing/holding certain instruments (covered bonds, high quality securitisation instruments, sovereign debt instruments, derivatives for hedging purposes);
  • Avoid potential disincentives for those institutions that act as intermediaries for clients in relation to trades cleared by CCPs.

The Commission will now submit these legislative proposals to the European Parliament and to the Council for their consideration and adoption.

Commission Q&A




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