Internationalised banking, alternative banks and the Single Supervisory Mechanism

David Howarth*, Lucia Quaglia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper sets out to explain the preferences of the seven northern euro area member states on the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) concerning the threshold set for direct European Central Bank (ECB) control over bank supervision. Building on the concept of the ‘financial trilemma’, it argues that different bank internationalisation patterns in the seven northern member states explain different preferences on the transfer of supervisory powers over less significant banks to the ECB. In particular, the reach of internationalisation into a national banking system – notably the extent to which even smaller banks were exposed to foreign banking operations – is shown to be the core factor explaining different national preferences on threshold. In the five countries with a large number of small and parochial alternative (cooperative and savings) banks, it is necessary to examine the system-specific structures of these banks to explain better the reach of internationalisation and national preferences on the threshold. Determined German opposition to ECB supervision of smaller alternative banks is juxtaposed with either less hostile or more positive support of at least four other countries despite the important presence of small alternative banks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-461
Number of pages24
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2016

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  • banking supervision
  • banking system
  • Banking union
  • Economic and Monetary Union
  • Single Supervisory Mechanism
  • SSM

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