The people who will lead the three new European financial supervisory authorities could be selected as early as next week.
The boards of the European Banking Authority (EBA), which is based in London, the European Securities Markets Authority (ESMA) in Paris, and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) in Frankfurt, each have separate meetings next week (12-14 January).
The authorities, which became operational on 1 January, will be chaired in a full-time capacity by people that the European Commission hopes will be both independent and “high-profile”.
Interviews for the posts were carried out before Christmas by Commission officials and two board members from each authority.
The shortlist will be finalised after Michel Barnier, the European commissioner for the internal market, has interviewed candidates over the coming days. He might express a preference to the appointing boards.
A Commission official said that it was possible that the boards would be in a position to consider the shortlists, which would each likely contain three names, by next week.
In that case the names would then go forward to the European Parliament for approval and could be confirmed by late February. Interviews for the posts of executive directors – the authorities’ second most senior role – will take place later this month.
A Commission official also said that the number of staff that the three authorities employ could increase beyond the current provisions if the EU decides to give them more powers.
Currently, the three authorities have a combined staff of 150, but that is planned to increase to 300 in four years’ time, distributed equally between the three.
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But that figure might rise as new tasks are given to the authorities. This would be dependent on budget increases, which have to be agreed annually.
National regulators contribute 60% of the three authorities’ budget, with the rest of the funding coming from the EU’s budget, agreed by the Council of Ministers and the Parliament.
The new authorities, which were created in response to the credit crunch and the ensuing economic crisis, will act as supervisors to national regulators to promote co-operation between them. They are supposed to alert the EU to potential financial risks and will be able to send legally binding decisions if financial institutions breach EU rules.
Barnier has described the new structure as “the control tower and the radar screens that the financial sector needs”.