Change at the helm of the EU’s highest financial services departments

ABBL Published 17.01.2020

Olivier Guersent had been steering the Commission’s DG FISMA (Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union) for the last ten years, first as head of cabinet of then Commissioner Michel Barnier and later on as director general of the same services. Many credit him with the pushing through the wave of post-crisis legislation in the financial sector. It was understandably big news when on 11th of December 2019, the European Commission announced that the Frenchman had been appointed as Director General at DG COMP (Competition). He took up his new  role on 1st of January. In the meantime his deputy, John Berrigan, has started working as acting Director General until the appointment of a substitute of Guersent.

John Berrigan is an Irish economist with a long career in the European Commission. In 2015, he was nominated Deputy Director General in DG FISMA. Before that he was Director for Financial System Surveillance and Crisis Management. From 2000 to 2014, he worked in DG ECFIN, first as Head of Unit for Financial Markets and Financial Intermediaries and then as Director for Financial Stability and Monetary Affairs. Indeed, when he started his career in the EU institutions, he worked on monetary policy and exchange-rate analysis in the context of preparations for the introduction of the euro in 1999. In his professional experience, he has also worked with the International Monetary Fund and for the government of Ireland as an Executive officer and Economic adviser.

Currently, the Commission is going through an official selection process for the position of Director General at DG FISMA. John Berrigan is understood to be among the candidates and many insiders have put their money on him because of his recognized work as Deputy Director general, his lifelong experience in the European Commission and his thorough knowledge of financial services.

A second significant change in top staff is expected at the European Banking Authority. Indeed, on the 14th of January, the Board of Supervisors of the Authority selected Gerry Cross as new Executive Director following the announced change of Adam Farkas to the Association of Financial Markets in Europe (AFME). Gerry Cross currently serves as Director for Financial Regulation at the Central Bank of Ireland. He has previously worked for the UK Financial Services Authority and for the European Commission’s financial services departments. Before he can be officially nominated and take up his position, he will need to be confirmed following a hearing on 22 January at the European Parliament’s ECON committee with a vote the following day. Despite his strong credentials the passage through the European Parliament is expected to be challenging as some MEPs are already critical of his past involvement with the banking industry during his time at AFME.

By Antoine Kremer, Head of European Affairs, and Silvia De Iacovo, ABBL & ALFI European Affairs

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