November 15, 2018
Finance

Top Italian banking regulator Italy didnt want

The European Central Bank governing councils choice of Andrea Enria to run its supervisory arm is a big win for Italy — but thats not how Rome sees it.

Italian populists find Enria too hawkish on the countrys weak banks.

On Wednesday, ECB policymakers backed the current chair of the European Banking Authority to succeed Danièle Nouy at the helm of its supervisory body, the Single Supervisory Mechanism.

Enrias appointment must still be approved by the European Parliament and EU governments. But his nomination means Italy will keep its position at the top of the EUs banking regulatory hierarchy once Mario Draghi steps down as ECB president late next year.

The EBA chiefs candidacy was backed by the likes of Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta and Cyprus, as well as top ECB officials like Benoît Cœuré, Peter Praet, and Draghi himself. However, countries including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium supported Sharon Donnery, a deputy governor of Irelands central bank, according to two Italian officials briefed on the discussions within the governing council (the votes were cast in a secret ballot).

Italys populist government also frowns on Enria, who is known for maintaining a certain independence from Italian politics.

Despite Enrias long experience and undoubted expertise in banking supervision, those countries didnt back him because they felt Rome shouldnt be rewarded with another top EU job when it is waging multiple campaigns against the blocs policies such as those on national budgets and migration, according to three MEPs in Brussels with knowledge of the various countries positions.

Italys populist government also frowns on Enria, who is known for maintaining a certain independence from Italian politics. For example, on October 23 when the European Parliaments committee on economic and monetary affairs was deliberating on its favored candidate, Marco Zanni, a Euroskeptic MEP from the League, left the room. That meant it was a tie between Donnery and Enria, which led to the ECB governing councils vote. (If the European Parliament had agreed on a candidate, the ECB would simply have approved the nomination.)

“Neither of the three candidates would have Italian interests at heart,” Zanni said afterward. (The third was French regulator Robert Ophèle.)

Nevertheless, most MEPs on the committee — and, ultimately, the majority of the ECBs governing council — recognized “Enrias greater international professional experience compared to Donnery,” one parliamentarian involved in drafting the letter to the ECB supporting his candidacy told POLITICO.

Enria graduated with honors from Italys elite Bocconi University in 1987, earned his masters degree from Cambridge University, and has spent the past 30 years working as an economist and a senior expert at the Bank of Italy and the ECB.

Immediately before being appointed the EBAs boss in March 2011, he was the Bank of Italys head of supervisory regulations and policies department. In the early 2000s, the La Spezia-born economist was head of the ECBs financial supervision division and before that he was one of the experts who helped put together the Lamfalussy Report, which shaped the EUs financial regulation and supervision in their current form.

In an interview with POLITICO last year when several Italian banks were in trouble, Enria called for a consistent application of EU rules and a single interpretation of “public interest” at EU level and by national authorities.

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