Morten Messerschmidt calls on EU institutions to end deadlock over STS proposals

Danish ECR deputy says the Parliament’s main political groups are obstructing the adoption of EU rules on STS-securitisation in a bid to gain concessions over stalled talks on creating a common bank deposit insurance scheme.

By Morten Messerschmidt

20 May 2016

Economic growth in Europe is challenged by a number of woes: Aging populations, stagnating productivity a lack of reforms and a renewed upsurge in state deficits.

And then there is the continued mismatch between regulations and national traditions across the 28 EU member states that still hampers cross-border trade, particularly in services.

But if you ask economists, at least off the record, what the biggest source of discontent and investor disconfidence in Europe has been since the 2008 economic meltdown, they will undoubtedly point to the continued failings of the euro. And perhaps even more to the endless quarrelling between the 18 euro member states about what to do about these failings.

Quarrels about which common economic and monetary policies to pursue between the 18 structurally different national economies. Or about the level of economic solidarity and thus potential economic transfers between North and South.


Adding to the sense of deep frustration over the EU project, not the least in Britain which is just weeks from a crucial remain or leave referendum, are the constant inter-institutional battles.

This conflict, between the ideological  federalist EU state-builders mainly related to the two biggest groups in the European Parliament and the more pragmatic inter-governmental approach followed mostly by the Council of Ministers, resembles trench warfare; One step forward and one step back, in this case on a never ending path to some fantasy of a united European super state.

Nowhere is frustration over this endless euro-bickering felt stronger than in negotiations in the Parliament over one of the European Commission’s most important growth initiatives, the so called Capital Markets Union.

Here we are in fact not dealing with an actual 'union' project, rather a sound and pragmatic EU-28 'internal market' project, aimed at establishing the building blocks of an integrated EU capital market that can deliver real benefits to investors and companies across our growth-starved continent.  

One of the flagship proposals of the CMU-package aims to establish a common EU framework for securitisation. This proposal draws valuable lessons from the crisis, which was fuelled by often complex and opaque securitisation structures with very high underlying risks such as the toxic US subprime residential mortgage-backed securities.

To avoid repeating such mistakes, the plan now is to identify a category of particularly low risk securitisations. The identification of such simple, transparent and standardized (STS) securities will enable a slight lowering of EU capital requirements on the financial institutions holding them.

This should help reboot Europe's paralysed securitisations market, which, by the way, never really carried any of the toxic characteristics of the pre-2008 US subprime driven securitisation disaster.

According to the Commission this will generate around €100-150bn in new funding for the economy, if EU securitisation issuance is built back up to its modest pre-crisis average. If we manage to bring third countries on board to the EU STS-scheme then this figure could easily double.

The STS-initiative is safe low hanging fruit. A safe and pragmatic method of revitalising the securitisation market and ensuring considerable economic growth by supporting bank financing of the real economy and open investment opportunities for a wider set of non-bank investors.

However we need to act now or we may not have a European securitisation market to save. Following the imposition of strict EU capital requirements on all types good and bad securitisation in 2014, the European market has been sinking fast.

This rapidly increases the likelihood that EU financial institutions will seek alternative means of funding and potentially lose their skill base in the handling of this particular financial instrument.

EU institutions could then exit the market leaving the playing field more or less to our competitors in the USA and Asia.  

Against this potential threat the Council of Ministers was able to find a common position on the proposal in the record time of only seven weeks.

But what is happening in the European Parliament? Here the two main political groups, the EPP and S&D, seem to have conspired to take all the time in the world, setting out a year-long plan full of Q and A sessions, hearings and other investigations into an issue that has already been rigorously covered by the European Banking Authority, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the International Organization of Securities Commissions, the European Central Bank and the Bank Of England.

And here comes the real sad story, which is that the real motivation behind the foot dragging appears to be an attempt to exploit the urgency and economic need for an EU securitisation framework as collateral in some gridlocked highly politicised negotiations about a completely different proposal to create a common bank deposit insurance scheme in the Euro area.

At stake here is whether or not Germany should accept, that their national banks will have to share the risks of such a scheme with their Southern colleagues. So yet another quarrel about North South solidarity in the Euro area, one that recently became heated, when Germany demanded that the proposal - because of its significance to its state finances - should be dealt with at intergovernmental level, thus leaving the European Parliament on the side lines.

This move has obviously ignited the fury of the federalists in Parliament, giving them yet another cause to take the STS-proposal hostage. Again, with European growth losing out.

My hope now is that, over the coming days and weeks, the responsible rapporteurs in Parliament will prove my interpretation of the negotiation process totally wrong.

Otherwise, we will have to hold them responsible for yet another missed EU economic growth opportunity and added frustrations over the EU-project.