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2017 Sonderbericht - Riskante Lücke bei der Kontrolle der europäischen Bankenaufsicht

Eine umfassende Kontrolle des Überprüfungs- und Bewertungsprozesses der Bankenaufsicht ist im Einheitlichen Aufsichtsmechanismus nicht gewährleistet. Nationale Rechnungshöfe hatten vor November 2014 eine deutliches „Mehr“ an Kontrolle als nun der Europäische Rechnungshof bei der EZB. Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt ein gemeinsamer Bericht mehrerer Oberster Rechnungshöfe aus EU-Mitgliedstaaten.
14.12.2017

Hinweis: Der Bericht ist zur Zeit nur in englischer Sprache verfügbar.

0        Executive summary

0.1      Point of departure

As from 2008, Europe was hit by a financial crisis and a subsequent sovereign debt crisis. Many governments supported failing financial institutions with public funds amounting to hundreds of billions of euros. In response, the countries of the euro area introduced the European Banking Union, including a Single Supervisory Mechanism. In this Mechanism, the European Central Bank is directly responsible for prudential supervision of all ‘Significant Institutions’. National Competent Authorities are directly responsible for supervising the ‘Less Significant Institutions’, based on guidance of the European Central Bank.

0.2      Auditing banking supervision in the Single Supervisory Mechanism

The Supreme Audit Institutions of Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands carried out a parallel audit to examine banking supervision at national level. The objectives of the parallel audit were:

  1. to gain insight into differences among EU Member States in the way supervisors have set up and carry out prudential supervision for LSIs, and
  2. to collect evidence about possible ‘audit gaps’ that may have emerged as a result of the introduction of the Single Supervisory Mechanism.

 

0.3      Key finding 1: Differences in regulatory transposition, design and practice of banking supervision

The regulatory framework regarding banks in the EU is characterised by complexity and has been subject to a number of changes since the outbreak of the financial crisis. We identified differences in how EU rules are transposed into national law. We found that within one common Supervisory Mechanism different national rules and regulations apply.

Furthermore we found differences in the institutional design of prudential supervision:

  • Frequently, the National Central Bank is responsible for prudential supervision but in some countries, the prudential supervisor is set up as a separate institution or responsibilities are shared between the Central Bank and a National Competent Authority.
  • Supervisory costs are charged to the supervised entities, but to different degrees.
  • Often the Ministry of Finance has a central role in supervising the supervisor, while in two countries Parliament and representatives of the regulated institutions are involved in this supervision.

 

We also found the following significant differences in supervision practice:

  • Methods designed either by the European Central Bank or national approaches are used for categorizing banks according to their systemic relevance and for assessing risks.
  • The proportionality of the annual assessment in the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process for Less Significant Institutions varies.
  • Substantive focus in the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process is either on assessing risks to capital, liquidity and sustainability of funding, or on assessing banks’ business models and adequacy of governance and risk management.
  • Either quantitative interventions (capital add-ons) are used by the National Competent Authority, or primarily qualitative interventions.

Key results

  • The way banking regulation is transposed, and banking supervision is designed and conducted, varies across different EU Member States. Within the Single Supervisory Mechanism, the single rulebook has to be adhered to. Nevertheless, the set-up and conduct of supervision can be tailored to specific national situations and national rules and regulations.
  • Future efforts by NCAs and the ECB are needed to strike a balance among harmonisation, proportionality and supervisory flexibility to match national specific circumstances. We encourage the European Commission and national decision makers to closely follow-up on how supervisory practice develops in the Member States.

 

0.4      Key finding 2: Audit gaps confirmed and increasing

The audit mandate of the European Court of Auditors with respect to the supervisory activities of the European Central Bank is narrowly defined as an examination of the operational efficiency of the management of the European Central Bank. At the time the Eurogroup considered the issue in December 2015, it argued that this narrow definition has its roots in primary law rather than the SSM regulation. However the resulting effects should be examined as they may give rise to differences in the depth of audit at European compared to national level in some Member States. The Special Report of the European Court of Auditors on the Single Supervisory Mechanism of November 2016 confirmed that the loss of mandate by some national SAIs after the introduction of the Single Supervisory Mechanism is not compensated by the mandate of the European Court of Auditors.

The European Commission’s review of prudential supervision by the European Central Bank states that the European Court of Auditor’s mandate “is indeed more limited than the mandates of certain national Supreme Audit Institutions over national banking supervisory authorities.”[1] It encourages the European Court of Auditors and the European Central Bank to conclude an inter-institutional agreement that specifies the modalities of information exchange in view of granting the European Court of Auditors access to all information necessary for performing its audit mandate.

We agree that an inter-institutional agreement can be a first step to improve external accountability of the European Central Bank´s supervisory function. However, ultimately we deem it necessary to clarify the audit mandate of the ECA, as this has a direct effect on the range of information the ECB is able to share with the ECA. The European Court of Auditors claims for itself the right to interpret the scope of its audit mandate. In our opinion, the clarification of its mandate should highlight inter alia that the provisions of Article 27.2 of the ESCB Statute are intended to protect the independence of monetary policy. The other ECB function – prudential supervision – needs to be subject to more stringent control and accountability than monetary policy. This could be achieved, for example, by giving the ECA the possibility to perform comprehensive audits of banking supervision pertaining to significant institutions as was the case in several countries including Germany and the Netherlands prior to the introduction of the SSM. The ECA’s audit mandate may need to be clearly defined by means of an amendment of secondary law (Single Supervisory Mechanism Regulation) and possibly primary law to generate greater legal certainty and create a sustainable solution. In this parallel audit, we also found that Supreme Audit Institutions with a mandate to audit the supervision of Less Significant Institutions are facing increasing difficulty accessing relevant information. A growing number of documents pertaining to Less Significant Institutions are subject to rules and standards of the European Central Bank. As a result, information of the European Central Bank relevant to audits on Less Significant Institutions is not shared with Supreme Audit Institutions. This new ‘audit gap’ will increase in importance as the European Central Bank issues more harmonizing guidance and methodology regarding the prudential supervision of Less Significant Institutions in the years to come.

Ten Supreme Audit Institutions in the euro area have a limited or no mandate to audit banking supervision of Less Significant Institutions and/or are facing difficulties exercising this right. As a result, supervision of Less Significant Institutions in these countries is largely not subject to external audit.

Key Recommendations

  • The European Court of Auditors and the European Central Bank should conclude – as a first step – an inter-institutional agreement specifying the modalities of their information exchange. However, ultimately we deem it necessary to clarify the audit mandate of the ECA with regard to supervision of Significant Institutions, as this has a direct effect on the range of information the ECB is able to share with the ECA. It may be necessary to cement this clarification in either secondary law and, if needed in primary law, with a view to generating greater legal certainty and creating a sustainable solution.
  • National Competent Authorities should authorise disclosure of information relating to prudential supervision of Less Significant Institutions to their respective Supreme Audit Institutions, in line with Art. 59 (2) of the Capital Requirements Directive (see Appendix 2).
  • National governments and parliaments in the EU should examine whether their Supreme Audit Institution has been given the de jure and de facto mandate to audit banking supervision. Where necessary and feasible they should seek an extension of their audit mandates in line with Art. 59 (2) of the Capital Requirements Directive.


[1]   On 11 October 2017, the European Commission published its first review of Council Regulation No. 1024/2013.

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