MNI: Spain Hopes To Head SSM, EIB Seen Overweighting Madrid
Madrid’s bid for top banking roles hampered by Spain already holding key jobs, MNI told
Bids for both chair of the ECB supervisory board and the presidency of the European Investment Bank look overly ambitious for Madrid given Spain’s strong representation already in senior EU institutional banking roles, well-placed officials point out.
Bank of Spain Deputy Governor Margarita Delgado is one of two nominees on an ECB shortlist to take over from Andrea Enria as chair of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) with Bundesbank Vice President Claudia Buch the other. Spanish deputy PM Nadia Calvino is a front-runner for the EIB top job.
A potential battle is looming between the ECB and the European Parliament who are lining up behind the rival candidates for the leadership of the SSM. While Delgado appears to be favoured by MEPs following preliminary hearings at the ECON committee of the European Parliament in July, it is not clear that the ECB Governing Council is of the same view, sources contacted by MNI say.
An ECB-proposed candidate for the SSM role will need to be vetted and approved by EU member states and by the European Parliament.
A SPANIARD IN THE WORKS
Quite apart from any potential Frankfurt-Brussels conflict, Delgado’s bid for the SSM role is complicated by Spain’s existing presence at the helm of EU banking institutions. Jose Manuel Campa stands at the helm of the EU Banking Authority and Luis de Guindos is ECB vice president, prompting one source to raise the EU’s aversion to “national over-weightings in institutions”.
One way in which that over-weighting could be eased might be a reshuffle of ECB Executive Board portfolios among its six members, suggested some sources, something that might be eased by the expected replacement of current board member Fabio Panetta by Piero Cipollone from November 1 (Donohoe link). But the sources concede that would make only a marginal difference and the possibility of Spain winning both the SSM and the EIB looks to be “a bridge way too far”.
One central bank source suggested that the EIB presidency would, politically, be a bigger prize for the Spanish government, opening the way for Germany to secure the SSM position. “If Nadia (Calvino) gets the EIB, then Claudia gets the SSM,” this contact said.
A source close to Calvino conceded the point that she would stand no chance should Delgado win the SSM role first but added that Calvino remains the favourite in the EIB race.
“If Ms Delgado got the SSM top job, this would certainly not help Ms Calvino’s ambition to become the new EIB President. While Spain is a large member state, getting both jobs at roughly the same time would be a little too much from the perspective of geographical balance - particularly in light of the fact that a Spaniard is also EBA chair and ECB vice president,” veteran ECON Committee MEP Markus Ferber told MNI.
Failing a Calvino succession at the EIB, Italy’s Daniele Franco is waiting in the wings, a Spanish government source said, with Rome said to be lobbying hard on behalf of the former economy minister.
The ECB will choose its nominee by ballot on September 13 and Buch, a member of the ECB’s Supervisory Board and member of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision since last April, is seen as having significant support in Frankfurt.
Ferber also told MNI that a vote for Buch would risk an “inter-institutional stand-off” between the ECB and European Parliament and said that the ECB would need a “convincing argument” to go against the EP’s preference.
But a central bank source seemed to think that the EP’s objections might be smoothed if Buch put in a good performance at any subsequent confirmation hearing at the EP’s ECON Committee.
One former ECB official noted that both candidates have “strong credentials” for the SSM role, even if Delgado does have longer supervision experience and a “tough” reputation.
Additional reporting by Santi Pinol