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19 Sep, 2013 11:33

‘Banking union is another nail in the coffin for the eurozone’

‘Banking union is another nail in the coffin for the eurozone’

As Europe moves closer to establishing a banking union in 2014, Saxo Bank CEO Lars Christensen tells RT it will destroy rather than strengthen the economy, warning the effects could be similar to the ones from the failed euro currency experiment.

The Frankfurt-based European Central Bank will officially take over supervision of more than 6,000 eurozone banks as early as October 2014, after European lawmakers voted on uniting their banking regulators. Not all bankers are convinced creating more solidarity and liability between banks is the right prescription for Europe’s banks.

The banking union is largely seen as a main driver for economic recovery and expansion in Europe, as it will facilitate trillions of euros in cheap loans and help restore credit-lending in Europe’s financially-crippled south. 

However, tying all the banks together in solidarity and liability may not be the prescription for economic growth, CEO of Saxo Bank Lars Christensen told RT in an interview.

“Introducing the banking union is in effect introducing all the bad things in the eurozone through the backdoor,” Christensen said.

The European banking supervisory authority will directly oversee some 130 banks representing about 80 percent of all bank assets in the 17-country eurozone. Ten EU countries that do not use the euro currency have been invited into the banking union, but have so far refused, the Saxo Bank boss said.

“It’s not only very unwise, but it’s undemocratic, because in essence it’s what people have said no to already,” said Christensen.

Along with the London-based European Banking Authority, the ECB will perform stress tests to make sure banks have adequate capital requirements, and will try to re-capitalize weak but viable banks, and close "non-viable" banks.

“In essence you will weaken the strong banks to support the weak banks – the banking union- is another nail in the coffin for the eurozone,” said Christensen.

Since late 2011, the ECB has shelled out nearly 1 trillion euros in emerging loans to European banks. The new banking union will take up the job of rescuing struggling banks, rather than leaving weaker member states to fend for themselves. In the past failing banks dragged down government finances and forced Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus into bailouts.

ECB President Mario Draghi has said the new mega-regulator will “contribute to the restoration of confidence in the banking sector.”

Euro drag

Christensen sees the banking union as an extension of the failed euro experiment.

“The euro is a major drag on growth, it destroys economies- it has destroyed several already- and it will continue to do so.”

Christensen also told RT the euro should be dismantled, not into 17 separate currencies, but perhaps into two, three or ten different ones.

“We will never see growth in Europe until we have dealt with this problem. You cannot have Greece, Portugal and Germany in the same currency union- it simply won’t work."

Another option is Germany “leaving the euro and the rest to battle it out in a more benign environment.”

Germany, France

Germany and France have both resisted handing over economic sovereignty to Brussels, and Chancellor Merkel has remained quiet leading up to the September 22 elections.

Completion of a eurozone banking union will depend on how quickly the EU can amend its Treaty which nationalizes banks, but Germany is working on  a plan that could expedite this process.

Germany still has supervision over national savings banks, and France is also defiant on bank union treaties.

Switzerland, Norway, and other non-EU countries within Europe will still have jurisprudence over how to deal with bank failures.