By Francesco Canepa and Balazs Koranyi
FRANKFURT, Sept 20 (Reuters) – The European Central Bank’s nominee as chief bank supervisor, Claudia Buch, got given a hard time from European lawmakers at her confirmation hearing, with some even raising objections about the legality of her nomination and her qualifications.
Buch, who has been the vice-president of Germany’s central bank for 10 years after a career in academia, was chosen last week over Spain’s Margarita Delgado, the European Parliament’s preferred candidate.
Most European lawmakers who intervened at the hearing criticised the ECB for disregarding their opinion when it chose Buch as the next chair of the Single Supervisory Board, which oversees the euro zone’s roughly hundred biggest banks.
The Parliament’s opinion, however, is not binding and a parliamentary source told Reuters Buch was still likely to be confirmed at a vote scheduled for 1400 GMT.
In a rare legal challenge, Jonás Fernández, a Socialist from Spain, said Buch’s nomination may have broken a rule barring the ECB from picking a candidate from within its own Governing Council, where Buch is an alternate member to Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel.
Buch said she would immediately resign from her role as an alternate if appointed as chief supervisor, but added she had not heard of any legal issue with her nomination from the ECB’s own legal services.
The source on the EU Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs said the matter may be settled via a clarification from the ECB’s legal department, as hinted at by Buch herself during the hearing.
ECB President Christine Lagarde said last week that the 26-member Governing Council followed the letter of the law in Buch’s selection process.
Marco Zanni, of the right-wing Identity and Democracy Group, asked Buch how she planned to fill a “hole” in her CV, referring to her limited experience as bank supervisor compared with the other candidate.
Buch, 57, recalled her decade as the Bundesbank’s board member in charge of financial stability, during which she worked “very closely” with bank supervisors and navigated through “many difficult situations”.
“I am fully confident in my ability and strengths for this position,” she added.
Responding to another question, Buch said creating a common EU insurance on deposits was crucial, breaking with her country’s long-held scepticism about an initiative that would see financial resources being pooled to save depositors across the bloc.
She cautioned, however, that “national specificities” that are working well should be preserved, a likely reference to Germany’s own system involving a public and private safety net for depositors.
She also pledged on Wednesday to simplify the annual checks that lenders undergo by cutting on routine tasks.