Business, Economics and Jobs

EU greatly expands power of central bank to help save euro


FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY: A huge euro logo stands in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) on April 9, 2009 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Ralph Orlowski

After 14 hours of deliberation, European Union finance ministers early today agreed on a landmark deal giving the European Central Bank (ECB) new powers to manage the bloc's deepening fiscal crisis, reported Reuters

Under the agreement, a new ECB supervisor would oversee banks in the 17 EU nations on the euro (with an opt-in for those who aren't), and empowers the body to bail out failing banks, reported the Associated Press

The agreement still needs parliamentary approval, but finance ministers emerged triumphant after a grueling all-night session. 

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he and his colleagues did "what we promised," adding: "Painstakingly, we advance the cause of Europe," according to AP

Now the responsibility falls on EU leaders, who will weigh the historic deal in talks today and Friday, said Reuters.

The move looks to transform the EU's banking system, instituting an unprecedented level of financial integration in a bid to strengthen their shared currency and help deaden the effect of the bloc's many troubled banks. 

It also gives the ECB authority to grant and revoke banking licenses, probe financial groups, and sanction banks that violate the bloc's regulations, said AP.

"It is about supervising together, taking measures at a European scale, knowing we are dealing with thousands of banks," AP cited EU Commissioner Michel Barnier as saying. 

Ministers hope the new ECB monitoring system could start work by the end of 2013, according to Reuters