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Procedure : 2010/0207(COD)
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Document selected : A7-0225/2011

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Debates :

PV 15/02/2012 - 18
CRE 15/02/2012 - 18

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PV 16/02/2012 - 8.1
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Explanations of votes

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

18. Deposit guarantee schemes (debate)
Video of the speeches

  President. – The next item is the report by Peter Simon, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on deposit guarantee schemes (recast)

(COM(2010)0368) – (C7-0177/2010) – (2010/0207(COD)) (A7-0225/2011).


  Peter Simon, rapporteur.(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow we are to vote on the new regulation on the deposit guarantee scheme at first reading. This is remarkable on several counts. Firstly, on a procedural level, because, as part of the new regulation of the financial markets, we have thus far managed to reach an agreement between the Council and Parliament at first reading, where both sides at least had a solution that they agreed they could live with. That is not the case here. Agreement between the Council and Parliament has proved impossible.

The other remarkable thing is that this proved impossible at a point where the new financial market regulations are most tangible to the people of Europe, because it is their fate at stake, their savings books and their current accounts – in other words, their money.

The European Commission made a proposal that initially seemed a little too inflexible in Parliament’s view when it came to the way in which guarantee schemes were to be organised. As rapporteur, I am very pleased that, thanks to the excellent support, cooperation and constant dialogue with the shadow rapporteurs, I have finally succeeded in producing a draft that takes account of this. This means that in future, the principles promised by politicians in all Member States to their people will be embraced in Europe and that, in the event of future bank crises and bank failures, the taxpayer will not be required to pick up the tab, but rather the banks will have saved the necessary resources in a fund during the good times, or at least the less bad times, to enable them to pay depositors, current account holders and savers in the event of a crisis involving the collapse of a bank.

In addition to suggesting such a stable fund, we also came up with a solution for the periods within which ordinary citizens should get their money back. I think that the period of one week that we suggest is within a timeframe where people will still manage to get by and will be able to go about their daily business without needing additional cash. We did not think that longer periods without access to finances would be reasonable.

We continue to believe that we need to ensure that the different risk profiles of the banks in Europe should be taken into account when payments are made into a guarantee fund. Riskier banks should be required to pay in more than banks that have a lower risk because of their business models.

All of these principles were brought together into an overall draft here in Parliament, finding broad majority support in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, in a broad coalition of parties, from the Left, through the Socialists, the Greens and the Liberals to the Conservatives. When we came to negotiate with the Member States, this made it all the more difficult for us to understand why they were unwilling to provide the necessary resources for a guarantee fund, to be provided by the banks in order to establish sufficient stability, why it proved impossible to achieve a faster payout for depositors, and why a consumer-friendly solution could not be found, even after eight months of negotiations. We therefore agreed, by means of a first reading, to give a clear signal in favour of consumer protection in Europe. We are prepared to go to a swift second reading with the Council. We wish to thank the Commission for its efforts in brokering a deal. However, we believe that tomorrow, we will have to show the European public what we think is appropriate in relation to depositor protection in Europe.


  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the crisis has made us face hard facts: banks do go bankrupt. Deposit guarantees are a vital instrument in protecting the public from the consequences of a bank failure. They also provide a tool for prevention and prevention is always much less costly than a cure because depositors know that, if the worst comes to the worst, they will be entitled to compensation.

This proposal has been on the table for a year and a half. I have not forgotten that Parliament has supported us since the beginning, and I should personally like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Simon, and also the shadow rapporteurs, for all your hard work and your support on this proposal. I wholly support the level of ambition that you just referred to, Mr Simon, and many of the concrete proposals contained in the report. I understand why Parliament decided to include this matter on the agenda of the plenary.

Your report clearly shows that the Commission and Parliament are pursuing the same objectives.

First, an adequate level of pre-financing. It is one thing to promise high compensation – two years ago, we raised the level of cover to EUR 100 000 – however the money has to be there. Our scheme is based upon the idea that the guarantee must be borne by the companies themselves.

Secondly, a speedy reduction in payment deadlines. Since late 2010, depositors are guaranteed to receive compensation within 20 working days, namely one month. That is a step forward, but not far enough, as you yourself have said. How can you feed a family for a month without access to a current account? We propose seven days and we think that is the right length, even if it is to be achieved gradually. It is technically possible and, furthermore, some countries have already achieved it.

Thirdly, contributions linked to risks. It is quite right for a bank with higher risks to contribute more. This is a matter of justice, and also stands to reason.

Fourthly, it must work well with crisis management tools. There is more than one way to protect depositors from bank failure. Therefore, provision could be made, in managing the bank’s crisis, to maintain access to accounts, for example, by transferring the accounts to another bank, which could be advantageous for depositors.

This kind of operation has a cost, and that is why our proposal authorised the further use of a guarantee fund for the purposes of early intervention or orderly resolution. You understood that and you indeed supported and even extended this proposal. Deposit guarantee and orderly resolution of banks are supplementary tools to guarantee continuity of access by depositors to their funds, to prevent rushes on banks and to maintain the stability of the entire system.

Of course, each of us has our own views. I am sorry, for example, that guarantee schemes can no longer legally borrow from their opposite numbers in other countries. The proposal was undoubtedly ahead of its time; we even thought that we were being moderate whilst you had recommended a genuine ‘pan-European’ scheme. However, I am sure, Mr Simon, that this idea will gain ground.

I note, ladies and gentlemen, that after the efforts of the Polish Presidency, the Danish Presidency has, to date, spared no effort and I would like to thank it for having advanced the positions of the Council, which, to be honest, are not always as ambitious as you or I would wish for.

Neither shall I go back over the work carried out by Parliament over the last few months. Nonetheless, I remain convinced, on the one hand, of the goodwill of the Council – and of the Danish Presidency in particular – and of your own, of which I am aware, and I am still convinced, ladies and gentlemen, that we are extremely close to an agreement.

Of course, such an agreement, if it is to come about, must take account of each party’s red lines and, in particular, the red lines to which you yourself referred and that you described in rigorous detail in relation to the Commission and to Parliament. If I understood the rapporteur correctly, there are certain essential points: significant pre-financing allocated to a guarantee fund, a credible timetable for reducing payment deadlines, and then the contribution which must be based on risk.

Mr Simon, ladies and gentlemen, I think that now, regardless of any decision you make about procedure, we should concentrate on these key issues if we are to reach an agreement as quickly as possible given the crisis we find ourselves in and faced with the concerns, the anxiety and sometimes even the anger of a number of our citizens. I believe that the Council – by drawing closer to your position – Parliament and the Commission would carry out their work effectively if they bring a rapid solution to this deposit guarantee scheme which I believe to be truly of general interest.


  Zuzana Roithová, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.(CS) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, as rapporteur of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection for this report, I would like to express my satisfaction that all of the key proposals from our perspective were incorporated into the final text. This mainly involved changes to the calculation of target amounts for deposits covered, deposit guarantees for small municipalities, supplements to the definition of savings books, and also the pushing through of short-term guarantees for deposits above EUR 100 000 in relation to property sales and the like.

I am pleased that it will also be possible to use funds preventively for rescuing banks. We succeeded in pushing through information on the function of deposit guarantees, not only for new customers, but also for existing customers. I also consider it a success that contributions will correspond to the risk profile of the financial institution, so that a risk-free building society will contribute less than a high-risk credit union. As a result of this, bank costs will fall and deposit security will increase.

We will vote here tomorrow on an instrument which should restore the trust of our citizens in the financial markets. I would like to thank the Commission for the proposal.


  Dimitar Stoyanov, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs.(BG) Mr President, I would like to start off by thanking all of my colleagues who have given me this opportunity today to address the plenary on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs. When reviewing the proposal for a directive on deposit guarantee schemes, the first task for the Committee on Legal Affairs was to investigate the legal basis for approving this act. The act was found to be in accordance with the Treaties. Following this review, the Committee approved a total of 16 proposals for amendments to the directive, some of which were accepted by the committee responsible and some were not. The underlying problem, one of the main suggestions of the Committee on Legal Affairs, was to do with the payout period, with the Committee proposing an extension of this period of up to four weeks. Our reason for this was that we consulted with a number of deposit guarantee schemes. We were therefore convinced that the payout period of five business days is practically impossible. On this point, I do not wish to disagree with the opinion given by the rapporteur and the Commissioner, who state that in the event of any bank going bankrupt, people still have to provide for themselves. I am of the opinion that no one supports themselves by relying solely on their savings. I believe that enabling the schemes to invest and work with their assets is much more important because, as it stands at the moment, their available assets will have to be kept liquid almost permanently in order to meet the short payout period.

The other two proposals related to lending between schemes have, I see, been removed altogether from the directive by the committee responsible. Therefore, our proposal has become pointless despite our considerable efforts to improve it. With regard to the delegated acts, as mentioned in the very beginning, we extended the objection period from one to two months, although the approach based on three plus three months, which I support, has already been adopted.


  Burkhard Balz, on behalf of the PPE Group.(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I can only agree with Mr Simon. I very much regret that we did not succeed in completing this report by the end of last year as planned. From my point of view, and that of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), our text offers a well-balanced approach which increases security and protection for depositors, on the one hand, while avoiding excessive demands on the banks, on the other.

In my opinion, we also succeeded in striking the right balance between harmonisation and flexibility. It was clear that we would need to negotiate hard with the Council on some issues. However, I never expected that the Member States would block any substantial rapprochement.

The Member States declared several times that they were unwilling to commit to a deposit guarantee scheme as long as we had no proposals in relation to crisis resolution. We all know, however, just how long we have been held up with the report on crisis resolution.

I believe that we have no other choice than to vote on this report tomorrow in plenary after more than six months of waiting. I believe that we need truly credible, reliable deposit guarantee schemes in the European Union. If the Council believes differently, it should answer to the public on this issue. We have played our part as colegislators. I would like to thank Mr Simon and the other shadow rapporteurs expressly for their extraordinarily positive and productive cooperation.


  Wolf Klinz, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, when the Lehman Brothers Bank in New York collapsed in March 2008, the global financial crisis reached its first high point. For small-scale savers and depositors, this crisis began a year earlier, when Northern Rock in the United Kingdom ran into difficulties and long queues of depositors suddenly began to form outside bank buildings, with customers waiting to withdraw their money.

This was not just limited to Northern Rock, but was also evident in other banks too. The uncertainty among savers, in particular small-scale depositors, was enormous, which was why national governments found themselves forced to guarantee investments above the contractually guaranteed minimum level. Some states, like Germany and Ireland, actually guaranteed deposits to an unlimited extent, something that could not be sustained in the long term. The divergence between the deposit guarantee schemes in Europe came at a price at the time.

That is why the Commission rightly said that we must ensure order and we must present a uniform deposit guarantee scheme for all 27 Member States of the European Union. It did this in an extremely convincing and acceptable way. The gaps were closed, depositor security was strengthened and a broad degree of harmonisation was established.

As representatives of Parliament, we support this proposal. We had thought that we could have tabled one or two improvements. Unfortunately, as Mr Balz has already explained, our negotiations with the Council have been unsuccessful to date. Nonetheless, we are not giving up hope, but believe that we may still succeed in the coming months.

The following is an important point, however: a deposit guarantee scheme protects depositors and is therefore necessary. However, it is even more important that it should not run out of money. Even more important again is that insolvency, or even difficulty, should be avoided, and that we should have preventive measures in place. That is why we urgently await the Commission’s presentation of the crisis and process management dossier.


  Sven Giegold, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (DE) Mr President, it is good to see a native of Düsseldorf in the chair. Firstly, I would like to point out that it is actually 18 months since the Commission presented its proposal. The proposal became necessary after it was found in several countries throughout Europe, including Germany, that the deposit guarantee schemes were unable to keep the promises made, and that was the case right across the various banking sectors. The Commission tabled an ambitious proposal and Parliament did not avert its eyes from the crisis.

It is abundantly clear that the banking system is under stress and we must avoid fanning the flames even further. This is why we were prepared to agree to a compromise reached on a cross-party basis that would involve a significant reduction in the Commission’s requirements with regard to the level of deposits to be saved. We were prepared to ensure that the deposit period would be extended. In our proposal, we also ensured that the tried-and-tested bank guarantee systems would be preserved. Despite all our willingness to compromise, the Council has so far refused to meet our demands. I am certain that most of the citizens of Europe do not want this. They want a guarantee scheme for deposits that has enough cover to make it credible that higher risk banks should be required to pay more than those who take fewer risks, and which is in a position to pay out money to the public quickly.

We cannot wait for this any longer. This grand coalition of the three big Member States who have blocked this for so long is now beginning to weaken. It is time for a majority vote in the Council. I am glad indeed that the Commission is on our side in relation to our central demands. I look forward to continued positive cooperation and a prompt agreement in the interests of our citizens.


  President. – Thank you very much, Mr Giegold. It is a pity that the Council is not here to listen to what you have to say.


  Vicky Ford, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, the purpose of the deposit guarantee scheme is to put an end to the scenes of queues of frightened customers, desperately trying to get their cash out of a failing bank and to stop banks having to be bailed out by taxpayers. I agree with this. We all want to give people confidence that their money is safe with a bank.

I have supported the rapporteur in many key areas, such as risk-based contributions and the emergency payout period. Banks must have proper computer systems for a rapid return of funds. Parliament is right to fight for this.

I recognise that there needs to be a level playing field across the single market, but I am concerned that this report will pull vital funds out of some of our economies. Many governments share these concerns, including Mario Monti’s I understand.

The question is how to pay out funds. The proposal forces banks to take the equivalent of one and half cents in every euro – or one and a half pence in every pound – away from lending to businesses and into supposedly safe investments, with unlimited investments allowed in sovereign debt.

This fund, equal to 1.5% of deposits, may be enough in countries where there are many small banks, but it would not be enough in countries which have very concentrated markets and are dominated by huge players. That is why in the UK, for example, the government has gone further to protect depositors – but in a different way, with ring fencing, higher capital ratios and the right to pull in funds retrospectively.

Let me be clear. I completely support Member States who want to introduce pre-funded schemes if that works for consumer protection in their market, but for this directive to work throughout, it must take account of the realities and differences in our national markets. While we will continue to support the rapporteur where we can, I hope he will take the opportunity to listen to the concerns of a number of different countries and work towards a better proposal supporting both the depositors and those in need of lending commitments from banks.


  Jaroslav Paška, on behalf of the EFD Group.(SK) Mr President, I would like to begin by saying that any strengthening of the deposit guarantee scheme is good news for citizens who deposit their savings in financial institutions. The revision of Directive 94/19/EC on deposit guarantee schemes is justified today by the fact that we now have several dozen different deposit guarantee schemes in the EU with various responsibilities for financial institutions and varying degrees of cover for deposits. The same rules for the protection of deposits throughout the European Union and the legal entitlement of depositors to protection of up to EUR 100 000 will give depositors in all countries the same certainty, thus avoiding unnecessary movements of deposits between countries. However, the mechanism for lending money between Member States’ systems, which could, under certain circumstances, become the means by which the crisis spills over from one country to another, seems problematic to me and would certainly not be good.


  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, the aim of this directive is clear: to protect individuals’ deposits when an individual bank collapses, or even when the European banking system itself is failing. The crisis showed that this is an area where increased Europe-wide coordination is necessary. During the worst of the crisis, we saw capital move from individual banks in some countries to banks in different Member States offering better deposit protection regimes, which added to the general turmoil.

Whether or not to pre-fund a deposit guarantee scheme is one of the outstanding issues. Alternative schemes have worked effectively across many Member States, even during the crisis. I therefore fail to see the justification for a solely pre-funded solution. We need to be more flexible in our approach. According to estimates by the UK Treasury, to pre-fund 1.5% of all British deposits would amount to an excess of EUR 15 billion being taken out of the economy. This would mean EUR 15 billion less capital available to provide loans for small businesses. We need to recognise that alternative systems do – and should – continue to exist.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule149(8))


  Sven Giegold (Verts/ALE), Blue-card question. – I would like to know whether you are aware that studies show very clearly that the amount of capital is not the key variable in showing how much lending happens in the real economy. Most banks use a large amount of money in order to take it – exactly as you were describing – out of real economic activity. So the real question is: how are banks regulated? It is not about setting aside 1%. So I would like to know whether you were aware of these studies and whether you took them into account in your deliberations.


  Kay Swinburne (ECR), Blue-card answer. – Mr President, I would like to thank Mr Giegold for the question. I am aware of all the different systems, but I guess my real concern here is that there is not one size that has to fit all. We can find different ways of doing this, and where Member States have got effective systems in place – and there are many Member States which do – we need to take into account the fact that their systems work effectively.

So if it suits people to have pre-funded, fine; but if we need a mixed system, then that should also be fine. We should not have to fit everything into one box.


Catch-the-eye procedure


  Elena Băsescu (PPE). (RO) Mr President, deposit guarantees represent an indispensable element for the credit institutions’ supervisory system. The system will allow compensation of depositors up to a certain ceiling, established at EUR 100 000. Depositors are exempt from participation in long insolvency procedures. At present, EU systems provide different protection levels for deposits and impose unequal financial obligations on the banks. It is important that the deposit guarantee system should ensure financial stability for clients. That is why depositors must be informed with respect to both guaranteed and non-guaranteed financial products.

I support the ex ante funding of the systems and differentiated contributions to deposit guarantee systems. I wish to point out that such systems must be permanently supervised. It is essential to perform crisis simulations for the systems used.


  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D). (RO) Mr President, the approximately 40 deposit guarantee systems in the EU ensure different deposit protection levels for different groups of depositors, and impose different financial obligations on the banks, limiting the internal market benefits. The minimum guarantee level established at EUR 100 000 provided for in this directive ensures protection for a greater part of the deposits, in the interest of both consumer protection and stability of the financial system.

It is important that all depositors should benefit from the same guarantee level irrespective of whether or not the currency of the Member State is the euro. In the event that an insolvent credit institution is closed, the depositors of any of the subsidiaries located in a Member State other than that where the credit institution is established must be protected by the same guarantee system as the other depositors of that institution.


End of the catch-the-eye procedure


  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission.(FR) Mr President, I have listened very carefully to what has been said by your rapporteur in his own speech and thereafter. I would like to thank Ms Roithová and Mr Stoyanov, the rapporteurs for their committees, for having welcomed the improvements proposed for this Commission text by the Commission and by your rapporteur to make the guarantee scheme more effective and less costly, as indeed Mr Simon has pointed out, particularly for the most vulnerable, of whom there are many at present.

I would like to thank Mr Balz for having pointed out the logical link – in a sense, the synergy – that I myself had proposed in the discussions, with the plan for the resolution scheme that the Commission is about to propose in the coming weeks. Mr Klinz, first of all, very strongly emphasised how important it is to have a scheme – you said a single European scheme – or at least an identical one, so that countries lagging behind can catch up with those who have already introduced this guarantee scheme. This must be a consistent scheme and I, like you, Mr Klinz, Mr Paška and Ms Băsescu, think that this helps the financial stability of the European Union.

This harmonisation that Mr Klinz and Ms Ţicău have just mentioned will be one of the major achievements of this plan when it is made official and operational. I would like to point out, ladies and gentlemen, that these patient, tenacious, week-on-week efforts are all working in the same direction, towards a single market for financial services, much as we have, for 50 years, been building a single market in all the other domains. However, I would like to be the Commissioner who, with you, will develop and, if possible, bring to completion the single market in financial services. This text contributes to that.

Mr Giegold requested, as I myself have done, new advances from the Council to enable us to reach a compromise as quickly as possible and I share, Mr Giegold, your point of view, that, and I had said this myself as had Mr Simon, that a riskier bank must pay more. That is clearly the rationale behind this text.

I would like to say just a word to Ms Ford and Ms Swinburne who have scrutinised this text closely. I honestly believe, Ms Ford, Ms Swinburne, that together, we have struck the right balance between prevention and the costs of prevention. I should like to note further that this text allows for a transition period during which the guarantee fund will progressively become fully functional and complete.

I should also like to note that this text has a signal advantage. It allows a mixture, with ex ante prevention being added to ex post cure. You can see, and here I am addressing Ms Ford and Ms Swinburne, that when we have not sufficiently planned for ex ante prevention, or indeed planned for it at all, we end up with deposit guarantee schemes in deficit. That is the case in a number of countries. I would like to say that this scheme seems to me to have struck the right balance

I also think that when we speak about all these matters – Mr Klinz you spoke about the crisis and the failure of a particular bank – I shall not fail to remember that it was clearly the financial crisis and the behaviour of a number of banks that shattered growth and placed many citizens in great difficulties.

I would like – as I think I have replied to everyone – to thank you for your support and simply say to Mr Simon that as Commissioner responsible for this matter, I have confidence in him and the coordinator. I have faith in you regarding a text that provides a good compromise for the economy, for depositors – particularly the most vulnerable – and one which will enable a rapid solution to be reached. I shall continue to be available to facilitate an agreement between the Council and Parliament.

Ladies and gentlemen, given the current situation, this citizen project is too important to remain in the realms of theory. We must bring this project to a successful conclusion. It is crucial for the citizen’s Europe that we wish to construct and also to provide a practical response to the worries and concerns of a number of citizens.

That is why I would like to thank you, Mr Simon, for the efforts that you will continue to make in the coming hours, days and weeks to enable us to reach an agreement with the Council. In any case, I shall be ready to play my part in it.


  Peter Simon, rapporteur.(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, I can only return these expressions of thanks in equal measure. Like you, I am convinced that there is a positive prospect of success in the coming weeks and months under the Danish Presidency, provided all those involved, by which I mean quite explicitly the Council, enter into constructive negotiations. Constructive negotiations also mean being willing actually to provide certain minimum standards in these guarantee schemes, as emphasised verbally on frequent occasions to the public. Then I believe that we will have no problem and that we will start to see light at the end of the tunnel.

I would like to thank the rapporteurs and the shadow rapporteurs for their kind words and for their support to date. I believe that we will also be able to continue working together in this positive vein in the coming months and would like to add my voice to that of Mr Barnier in relation to what we have heard from Ms Ford and Ms Swinburne. I think I could not have put it better myself at this point.

I would therefore like to limit my answer to a single point, namely, to the comment made by Mr Stoyanov in relation to the question of a four week payout period versus a seven day payout period. None of us want to make promises that we cannot keep. We therefore need to make it clear that the schemes can pay out within the promised deadlines. National legislation requires British banks to take all the necessary steps to facilitate this. They have already been able to do that. If British banks can do this in seven days, then I believe banks in your country, and mine too, will be able to do the same. We will allow them sufficient time to be able to make money available as quickly as possible in the interests of the public. I believe that this is a point that we will need to discuss further in our forthcoming negotiations with the Council. I would again like to thank all my colleagues and hope that we shall produce a result under the Danish Presidency.


  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)


  Iliana Ivanova (PPE), in writing. (BG) As a consequence of the considerable gaps in the existing legal framework for deposit guarantee schemes that have became evident during the financial crisis, my colleagues and I worked diligently on reforming the European directive currently in place. We were able to achieve a balanced text that protects citizens’ savings better and, at the same time, does not pose an excessive risk to the banks. Our proposals cover the stability of the deposit insurance funds, compensation payout period and recognition of multiple risk levels. I would like to emphasise that guaranteeing assets of up to EUR 100 000 is not a sufficient condition for providing reliable protection. Therefore, we proposed preliminary (ex ante) financing schemes and the implementation of a risk assessment system. This allows riskier banks to allocate more assets to the fund, guaranteeing their clients’ savings. Our key proposal concerns the compensation payout period – we are proposing this period be decreased from the current 20 business days down to seven. Unfortunately, our proposals are not being accepted by Member States at this stage. I would like to appeal to the Danish Presidency to make every possible effort to motivate Member States to show the ambition we need to achieve a result. This result is in the interest of all European citizens and will improve the stability of the financial sector within the EU as a whole.

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