Valdis Dombrovskis, a new round as Commissioner peppered with new challenges

ABBL Published 11.10.2019

On Tuesday 8th October, the parliamentary committees have been busy to audit the three Executive Vice Presidents-designate of the von der Leyen’s Commission: Margrethe Vestager, Frans Timmermans and Valdis Dombrvoskis, all well-known in the previous mandate. Indeed, they have all been confirmed for a second round, with more or less the same portfolios, adjusted to the current challenges and needs of the EU.

Dombrovskis, Commissioner for DG FISMA, will lead the same DG but with broader powers in the field of social inclusiveness and sustainable growth. His hearing has been dense with questions on the transition to a neutral green economy and the digital transformation of society. The Commissioner-designate expressed his commitment to massively invest in a European sustainable investment plan that will help all sectors of the economy and society to tackle the challenges of climate change. Among the priorities of the whole Commission figures prominently the issue of a European Green Deal that would make the EU transit towards an economy with zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Then, several MEPs questioned Dombrovskis about the effectiveness and implementation of the anti-money laundering legislation. Though the EU provides for one of the strictest frameworks in terms of AML, the enforcement process is in the hands of national legislators and competent authorities. Indeed, he stressed the importance to transfer some specific supervisory tasks to the EU level. Also, Dombrovskis said, to ensure the full application of the European AML rules, the Commission will rethink the overall framework and ensure better coordination between Union bodies.

In his opening speech, Dombrovskis also mentioned the completion of the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union, inserted in the Commission’s agenda. On this, the Commissioner-designate will work to break the slow progress on the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) pillar. Nevertheless, he highlighted the progresses made so far, for instance the impressive reduction of the non-performing loans and the broad supervision mechanisms for the banking sector. In this regard, Austrian MEP Karas (EPP) asked Dombrovskis about the inclusion of the proportionality principle in the transposition of the latest Basel texts. The Vice President had not specifically replied to that question, but he just said that the implementation of the Basel III will take into account the European specificities. This, because the Commission has to consider the impact studies conducted by international authorities and the findings of public consultations.

Another topic raised during the questions and answers session with Commissioner-designate has been the long-discussed issue of crypto-assets and how the EU is intended to tackle the risks emerging from these new liabilities. Dombrovskis affirmed the willingness to create a clear regulatory framework that would guarantee financial stability, with a right balance between promoting innovation and addressing the potential risks. He also said that the Commission will advance a legislative proposal on crypto-currencies in the following months, because Europe needs a common approach on novelties like Libra that could endanger the integrity of European financial markets.

Finally, Dombrovskis has been questioned on the intention of the EU to regulate tax havens and create a blacklist including EU Member States, in particular Luxembourg and Ireland. He responded that the Commission will work on the creation of a European list of tax havens based on transparency, compliance of base erosion and profit shifting and existing harmful practices. Also, the same existing standards, that worked quite successfully in the last years, will be applied, following the OECD’s guidelines on base erosion and profit shifting.

Surely, to strengthen the European financial system, the Commissioner-designate will have to find agreement in the Council and the Parliament on a broad number of topics, among all the improvement of measures against money laundering previously mentioned.

By Silvia De Iacovo, ABBL & ALFI Representative Office in Brussels

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