Earlier this week, the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs voted by 27 to 24 not to offer a key role to Gerry Cross, the Irish Central Bank’s director of financial regulation and risk.
Mr Cross had hoped to become second-in-command of the Paris-based European Banking Authority.
Those who opposed him did so, they said, because he had worked for lenders’ lobby group the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (Afme). Mr Cross’ cause was not helped by the fact that he applied to fill a vacancy created by Adam Farkas, who left the authority to head Afme on conditions seen as too lenient.
Voting down the nomination was a “strong signal against the power of the banking lobby in Brussels. Such conflicts of interest undermine trust in EU authorities,” one MEP said.
The EU ombudsman has decided to investigate those conditions.
The MEPs’ vote, narrow as it was, raises some important questions, more about procedures, relationships, and conventions than individuals.
If the charge that the relationship between EU banks and regulatory authorities is so very close, then that deserves attention — as the disastrous consequences of such a close relationship in this country showed more than a decade ago.
There is also an unavoidable, uncomfortable question: Why are Irish Central Bank expectations different to those of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs?