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Banking Union and Economic and Monetary Union

Part of Free School Meals (Children Over the Age of 16) – in the House of Commons at 5:32 pm on 6th November 2012.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 5:32 pm, 6th November 2012

I beg to move amendment (a), in line 10, leave out from ‘and’
to end and add

‘whilst welcoming the Government’s desire to seek safeguards for the UK, calls on the Government in respect of Regulation (EC) No. 1093/2010 to use its best endeavours to ensure that the proposed changes in the voting rights in the European Banking Authority are not adopted, to use its veto in respect of European Union Document No. 13683/12 so as to ensure that the powers of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank are not unlawfully delegated to the Single Supervisory Mechanism without an amendment of the treaties and/or to refer that matter to the European Court of Justice for adjudication of that proposal.’.

I am deeply troubled by the wording of the motion. In my judgment, it simply does not make sense to state that the House should welcome

“the Government’s decision to remain outside the new supervisory arrangements while protecting the single market in financial services.”

We acquiesced in to the Lisbon treaty, the Labour party agreed to the transfer of jurisdiction over the City of London to the EU, which was wrong—the Single European Act was never remotely intended to produce such a result—and, furthermore, views I have received from the City clearly demonstrate that it does not believe that the proposals in the motion will protect the UK or a single market in financial services.

There is another massive issue about the rule of law in Europe. The Foreign Secretary, in his speech to the Körber Foundation conference in Berlin a fortnight ago, said that what bound us together in the EU and the reason for the Government wanting to remain part of it was that it

“has helped to spread and entrench democracy and the rule of law across Europe.”

The tragic reality is that the EU does not subscribe to the rule of law. On 17 December 2010, Madame Lagarde said about the first bail-out fund, the European financial stability mechanism:

“We violated all the rules because we wanted to close ranks and really rescue the euro zone.”

Germany and France themselves broke the stability and growth pact. Furthermore, both the Government and the Attorney-General are clearly of the view that the agreement on the fiscal compact was unlawful, but in reality nothing has been done—hence my call for the legal reserve on this matter, although the legal reserve issued before has never been implemented.

The Government know that the proposals referred to in the second part of my amendment are unlawful. The Council of Ministers’ own legal adviser, in a lengthy opinion which I have seen and which the Government cannot dispute, states that there will have to be an amendment to the treaties if the powers of the governing council of the ECB are to be delegated to the single supervisory mechanism.

The legal opinion says on the proposal amending the EBA regulation, in effect, that in terms of the EBA’s dispute resolution powers there is no justification for treating the ECB differently from banking authorities in non-eurozone member states by exempting it from those powers. To do so would be a clear breach of the principle in law of non-discrimination.

As to the proposal giving the ECB prudential oversight of credit institutions in the eurozone, the legal opinion states that in establishing the single supervisory mechanism the council must respect the legal framework for decision making within the ECB set by primary law—that is, the treaties. This framework does not allow the ECB’s governing council to delegate decision-making functions on banking supervision to a subsidiary body such as the SSM. There is nothing in the legal base for the SSM proposal, in article 127(6) of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union, which would permit secondary law—that is, this draft regulation—amending the rules laid down in primary law. There is no question about it and the Government know that.

Non-eurozone member states are not entitled to participate in the ECB’s decision making, so they can have no formal decision-making role in the SSM as conceived. Furthermore, the law on banking supervision in the EU will be made up of directives to a significant extent. This is a requirement of the treaties. That means that the ECB cannot propose one-size-fits-all legislation on banking union. Rather, it can propose legislation which allows for differences in national transposition.

We simply cannot countenance a situation in which there is a wilful breach of the rule of law and where the dysfunctional European Union vaunts the rule of law, yet deliberately breaks its own rules. This is precisely what led to the kind of constitutional crisis that we have seen in our own history when Governments from the Stuarts onwards claimed a divine right to rule but then broke the common law. This is the primrose path to constitutional disaster not only for the United Kingdom, but for Europe as a whole. I hope the House will understand my concern, as I suggested back in the 1990s that this would happen.

I hear what the Minister says but I cannot understand why and how, given comments that I have received from the City of which I am sure he is aware. Those in the City make it clear that the single market would be put at risk by an imperfect single market in financial services in which rules differed by level of membership of the EU. Furthermore, they say:

“It is essential that voting arrangements within the European Banking Authority are clarified so as to avoid members of the Banking Union voting together en bloc and imposing financial regulation on non-Eurozone members through qualified majority.”

For “clarified”—