Bezpieczny Bank nr 4 (77) 2019, s. 23-49

Piotr Bednarski
Piotr Bednarski – PwC Advisory Sp. z o.o.

Brian Polk
Brian Polk – PricewaterhouseCoopers UK

Should supervisors allow capital waivers to be used within European cross-border banking groups?


A common theme in recent public European Union (EU) policy debates is improving integration of the EU financial sector. The suggestion is that the Euro area should be treated as if it were a single jurisdiction, across which banks should be able to centralise management of capital and liquidity. Financial fragmentation is said to trap capital and liquidity in local subsidiaries in Host countries which is suboptimal, hindering the cross-border provision of credit, and resulting in an inefficient economic allocation, with higher costs for customers, and lower profitability for the industry in the EU. The proposed policy involves measures to counteract ring-fencing of subsidiaries by Member States (MS), curtailing national options and discretions that limit the harmonization effects of the EU’s Single Rulebook, and other regulations and supervisory practices that reduce banking groups’ cross-border freedom. However, some of the national options affecting banks in the EU are still supported by MS as needed due to local risks, financial stability concerns.
Cross-border banking, often used as a yardstick to gauge the level of financial integration in the EU, can currently be realized in the EU in three basic forms: via subsidiaries, via passported branches or via cross-border provision of services. Among the solutions to fragmentation that many EU policy makers and governments focus on, at least in the Eurozone (EZ), are: completion of the Banking Union (BU), adopting regulations allowing capital, liquidity and MREL waivers in subsidiaries across borders, and the reduction of national options.
In November 2016, the European Commission (EC) proposed changes to Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR), Capital Requirements Directive IV (CRD IV) and Bank Resolution and Recovery Directive (BRRD) which would have allowed, under certain conditions (e.g. subject to guarantees), the application of capital, liquidity and MREL (Minimum Required Eligible Liabilities) waivers in the subsidiaries of EU banks operating in EU MS. These propositions faced strong opposition and were not ultimately adopted in the recently published CRR 2.0, CRD V and revised BRRD, due to lack of consensus among MS. But the arguments in favour of change have not disappeared.
In this paper, we start with a look at the current state of financial integration in Europe. We then examine the arguments for and against the use of waivers. Building on these arguments, we subsequently explain sensible preconditions that should be put in place – in addition to completing the BU – to allow the prudent use of such waivers. We also discuss alternatives to the use of waivers, based on expanding the use of branches and indicate incentives which can play a role in shaping the quality of cooperation between Home and Host supervisors.

Key words: capital and liquidity waivers, EU financial sector integration, SSM waiver, CRR 2.0, CRD V, BRRD, resolution, financial sector fragmentation, Home-Host supervisors, SRB, SSM, ECB

JEL: G18, G21,G28


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