I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 45 together.
The Euro-area Heads of State or Government (HoSG) agreed in June 2012 that "it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns", and that when a Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), which forms part of an overall Banking Union proposal involving the ECB, is in place and operational, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will have the possibility to recapitalise banks directly. The Eurogroup meeting of 20 June 2013 agreed on the main features of the European Stability Mechanism's Direct Recapitalisation Instrument or DRI. The DRI will come into effect when the SSM is in place and operational. This is not expected to take place until late in the current year.
The operational framework of the DRI has been discussed at ministerial level and the aim is to complete this discussion as soon as possible in order to allow the ESM Member States sufficient time to complete any necessary national procedures before the SSM comes into effect later this year. The overall Banking Union proposal involves an integrated system for the supervision of cross-border banks in the form of the SSM; harmonised EU rules on deposit guarantee schemes ('DGS'); a European resolution scheme commonly referred to as the Bank Recovery & Resolution Directive (BRRD) and; a Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) to coordinate the application of resolution tools to banks under the Banking Union.
As you are aware, one of the core objectives of Banking Union is to break the link between the sovereign and the banking sector by strengthening the banking system and making it more resilient. A key feature is the need to provide authorities with a credible set of tools to intervene sufficiently early and quickly in an unsound or failing bank so as to ensure the continuity of a bank's critical financial and economic functions whilst minimising the impact of a bank's failure on the economy and financial system, by requiring that shareholders bear losses first followed by creditors while at the same time minimising the costs for taxpayers.
Banking supervision in the EU is currently the responsibility of the Member States. However, the financial crisis showed that national supervision has not always been effective in spotting problems in banks. Also it showed how quickly problems in the financial sector of one country can spread to another i.e. contagion. Therefore, the European Commission has overseen the establishment of the SSM. The SSM will act as a central authority that oversees the key aspects of the activities of banks in the euro area. This is particularly important in order to ensure an effective overview of trans-national banking groups, which often have subsidiaries in many countries. The SSM is the basis for the next steps towards the banking union. This reflects the principle that the ESM will have the possibility to recapitalise banks directly when the SSM is in place and operational.
The objective of the ESM's DRI will be to preserve the financial stability of the euro area as a whole and of its Member States in line with Article 3 of the ESM Treaty, and to help remove the risk of contagion from the financial sector to the sovereign by allowing the recapitalisation of institutions directly. I remain confident that the commitment made by the EU HoSG in June 2012 to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns will be respected.