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The European Banking Authority (EBA): an overview
The European Banking Authority (EBA) is the regulatory agency that seeks to maintain stability in the European Union’s banking industry.
What is the EBA?
The EBA is an independent EU authority that is tasked with both the regulation and supervision of all banking entities located or operating in the European Union (EU). Historically, some financial services were left broadly unchecked, with seemingly limitless balance sheets and financial capital. The European Banking Authority serves as the governmental arm in the EU that continuously tests and regulates banking companies to protect customers, investors and maintain the integrity of financial markets.
A brief history of the EBA
The EBA was introduced in 2010 by the European Parliament. It came to replace the previous Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS). The EBA was formally established on January, 1 2011 as part of the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS).
The EBA was established at a time of dire financial crisis in the EU, following the global financial crash of 2008. The EU banking sector – much like other global financial sectors, was rife with malpractice and bad actors. The EBA was created to ensure market transparency, establish quality control over new financial instruments and protect EU investors. Since its creation, the EBA has laid a solid foundation for the EU financial system and maintains the integrity of the EU financial sectors.
Key provisions and features
Setting guidelines for the banking industry: The European Banking Authority directly combats lobbying by financial organisations by creating guidelines and laws that are in the interest of the public. With the backing of the European Parliament, the European Banking Authority can fine and ultimately shut down any institution that refuses to comply with guidelines.
Stress testing: The EBA is known for its innovative approach to regulating banks. Instead of just sending compliance officers to banks to ensure compliance, the EBA actively stress test banks. Stress tests involve putting banks through different market conditions to see how they react. By continuously stress testing banks, the EU financial sector will be prepared for any adverse market developments.
Environmental, social and governance: In June 2021, the EBA said that banks in the European Union must have a ten-year plan that explains how they will deal with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks to their bottom line.
Who must comply with the European Banking Authority?
The main target for EBA compliance is financial institutions that are operating in the EU. Regardless of country of origin, it has the final say in all banking operations that occur in the EU. Any legislation must be followed by all banks and financial institutions. Since the EBA was created as a direct result of financial crises in the banking sector, the majority of the EBA’s focus will be directed towards financial institutions.
National regulators are not subjects of EBA compliance, but they do fall under its jurisdiction. Since the EU is constituted of many countries, there’s naturally different regulations in regards to banking within each country. The EBA has the power to overrule national regulators if they fail to adequately regulate banks in their country. The EBA has the final say in cases of regulatory misconduct in a given EU country.