By Sean Adl-Tabatabai
The European Union is about to pass a new law that will allow governments to freeze people’s bank accounts in order to prevent bank runs.
According to an EU document obtained by Reuters, the New World Order crackdown on the freedom to withdraw cash has been in the works since the beginning of 2017:
Giving supervisors the power to temporarily block bank accounts at ailing lenders is “a feasible option,” a paper prepared by the Estonian presidency of the EU said, acknowledging that member states were divided on the issue.
EU countries which already allow a moratorium on bank payouts in insolvency procedures at national level, like Germany, support the measure, officials said.
“The desire is to prevent a bank run, so that when a bank is in a critical situation it is not pushed over the edge,” a person familiar with German government’s thinking said.
To cover for savers’ immediate financial needs, the Estonian paper, dated July 10, recommended the introduction of a mechanism that could allow depositors to withdraw “at least a limited amount of funds.”
Banks, though, say it would discourage saving.
“We strongly believe that this would incentivize depositors to run from a bank at an early stage,” Charlie Bannister of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), a banking lobby group, said.
The Estonian proposal was discussed by EU envoys on July 13 but no decision was made, an EU official said. Discussions were due to continue in September. Approval of EU lawmakers would be required for any final decision.
The plan, if agreed, would contrast with legislative proposals made by the European Commission in November that aimed to strengthen supervisors’ powers to suspend withdrawals, but excluded from the moratorium insured depositors, which under EU rules are those below 100,000 euros ($117,000).
Under the plan discussed by EU states, pay-outs could be suspended for five working days and the block could be extended to a maximum of 20 days in exceptional circumstances, the Estonian document said.
Existing EU rules allow a two-day suspension of some payouts by failing banks, but the moratorium does not include deposits.
The Commission, which declined to comment on the discussion, had previously excluded insured deposits from the scope of the moratorium tool fearing it “may have a negative impact on market confidence,” according to a press release published in November.
Many states supported a suspension of payouts only during the so-called resolution of a failing bank – the process which imposes losses on lenders’ investors and possibly also uninsured depositors, while preserving the continuity of the banking activities, the document said.
Most countries opposed bolder plans for an early moratorium.