This month in brief:
Political: Within weeks, the eurosceptics may be marginalised in the European Parliament, but the next round is `Commission President’ and there will only be one player who is seeing all the cards: HvR. As the master-negotiator, he will play his cards close to his chest and the public may only learn the identity of the next Commission President very close to the 26/27 June Summit. A core problem for the EU may now be the conflicting demands of the losers: President Hollande and PM Cameron. The latter is suggesting that only “Treaty change” reforms will satisfy him but the former may be loath to test publicly his personal standing ahead of the next French Presidential election in 2017. By the autumn, it may be clear if the EP has succeeded in `capturing’ key Commissioners and shifting the institutional power balance in the EU. More
Financial: The formal enactment of Banking Union measures marked the end of the Level 1 legislative phase – for the moment. But 1000 pages of MiFID consultation underlined the magnitude of the detail now to come. The interim is providing a period of reflection about what has been achieved and what remains to be done or repaired. The development of `good’ securitisation and capital markets is a recurrent theme that is no longer automatically blackened by the label `shadow banking’. But all this implies an ever-more single market in finance, and thus greater integration of the required political control. Yet the EP elections sent a powerful message about `something’. Can this circle be squared?
The costs of implementing the reform process are now becoming apparent – in particular the data requirements that are essential if regulators are to recognise incipient risks. It is disappointing that indirect market participants, such as corporate treasurers, do not recognise the longer term benefits to their companies and simply complain of the costs. More
Economic: The spring economic forecast showed a continuing slow recovery and the Commission published it long-awaited impact assessment on the massive wave of financial sector reform. My blog pointed out that many of the measures are not yet in force and highlighted the one indisputable fact: the massive economic effects on society. Several ECB Council members (Draghi/Praet/Mersch/Weidmann) reflected on the difficulties of conducting monetary policy amidst factors outside the ECB’s control: public finance, banks’ balance sheet adjustment, the legal limits on the bank’s mandate – all coupled with a period of low global inflation. The FTT debate raged on – with 10 states deciding they want to do `something’ but unable to agree on what. So the Presidency has given them three basic options and asked for views! More
Member States: Portugal opts for a clean programme exit – but still much work to be done to maintain progress. The first post-programme surveillance mission to Ireland concluded that a gradual recovery can be expected in 2014 but assumes a rigorous implementation of the budget. Bank of Italy warned of 'fragile' recovery as bad loans have begun to decline relative to overall lending. The fourth Troika review of Cyprus made good reading as the programme remains on track and fiscal targets for the first quarter of 2014 were met with a considerable margin.
‘Brexit’ talk dominated in the UK as PM Cameron guaranteed a referendum if he is PM after 2015 and underlined that some of his demands require “treaty change”. UKIP topped the EP poll – with about 4.5 million votes or just 9% of the UK electorate. Paradoxically, the YouGov polls show that `stay in the EU’ respondents overtook the `outs’ in March and have increased their lead to 42:37. Is the rising chorus of comment from employers about the perils of `out’ beginning to have an impact? More