The new Presidency of the Council: the German priorities for financial services

ABBL Published 14.07.2020

On 1 July, under the motto “Together for Europe’s recovery”, Germany took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from Croatia and announced its priorities for the next six months, including several aspects related to financial services. The Presidency programme focusses on the banking- and capital market unions, digital finance, the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing, and sustainable finance.

With regards to the Banking Union, the German government aims at further integrating the European banking system by creating an efficient crisis management framework made of a European deposit insurance and by introducing a regulatory treatment of sovereign risks. They also committed to start negotiations with the Parliament on the proposal to regulate non-performing loans (NPLs) in the secondary markets and on the implementation of the Basel III framework by the end of this year. The German Presidency also expressed its interest in strengthening market integration by further advancing the Capital Markets Union. Indeed, they committed to adopting Council conclusions on the Commission’s Action Plan on CMU and to take forward the proposals for the Benchmark Regulation and the MiFID quick fix, concluding the negotiations with the Parliament.

Not to forget the commitment shown by the German Presidency to advance the legislative proposals embedded in the Digital Finance Package and announced for September. Among these proposals, figure prominently a cross-sectoral Financial Services Act on operational and cyber resilience as well as a proposal on crypto assets and stablecoins. These, together with a Digital Finance Strategy and the Retail Payments Strategy, aim to bring forward the project for an innovative and secure European digital finance union.

As far as sustainable finance is concerned, the German Presidency expressed its support for the Sustainable Finance Strategy foreseen in the last quarter of 2020 and for promoting and investing in European Green Bonds. Last but not least, regarding the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing the Presidency plans to adopt an ambitious and firm position in the Council ahead of the legislative proposal in the first quarter of 2021. Also, during the discussion on the Commission’s Action Plan on AML in the European Parliament plenary, the Council representative remarked the willingness of the Council to provide assistance and guidance to the Commission for the implementation of the legislative proposals contained in the Action Plan, adopting targeted Council Conclusions by the end of this year.

In conclusion, the plan seems ambitious and full of interesting initiatives that would affect the financial sector significantly. The hope is that Germany will be able to maintain its promises and to put forward most of these proposals.

By Silvia De Iacovo

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