At the end of June, the ECON Committee of the Parliament held a meeting to scrutinise the new candidate for the EBA’s Executive Director. The candidate for the position was Mr François-Louis Michaud, who during his hearing expressed his willingness to reform the Authority, in light of the new challenges that the EU is facing and the new responsibilities that the EBA has been designated with. Among other things, MEPs asked about a possible reform of the EBA to make it work better on anti-money laundering. Mr Michaud said that the fifth Directive on AML represented a very positive development, but the new powers are not sufficient and there is need for more coordination, investigation and direct action. He then believes that a fully-fledged authority on AML will be more useful, either with supervisory role or for coordination, but with the possibility of launching direct investigations. He also committed to promote gender balance within the EBA, especially at the manager levels and with its stakeholders, and to review the existing rules of the EBA to prevent conflicts of interests in the future, for instance by establishing a dedicated committee on this matter.
In spite of his promises, the ECON Committee rejected his candidacy, with a narrow majority of 24 against 23 and 10 abstentions, due to a lack of gender balance. Indeed, MEPs lamented the missing of a female candidate on the shortlist and in the past expressly demanded for gender-balanced shortlists for top positions in financial institutions of at least one man and one woman. It was the second rejection in a row for this position after Gerry Cross in January, whose candidacy was not considered acceptable for the same reason, but also because of his past in the financial industry. Nevertheless, the European Parliament in plenary overturned the ECON recommendation for the final vote on Mr Michaud and confirmed him in the position, with a slight bigger majority of 343 votes against 296 against.
In conclusion, Mr Michaud will take the post of Adam Farkas and join the EBA as Executive Director as soon as possible. He has worked in the public sector since the beginning of his professional career, covering various roles in banking supervision and in financial stability. In 2014 he joined the European Central Bank as Deputy Director General for horizontal and specialised topics and Micro-Prudential Supervision. In that role, he was also a member of various EBA and BCBS groups. After that, he has been Deputy Director General at the ECB, in the directorate general responsible for the supervision of the largest European banks, a position is leaving now for being the EU banking watchdog boss.
By Silvia De Iacovo