MEPs' questions to Mr Regling focused almost exclusively on whether the ESM could take on more tasks, such as acting as a "backstop" for the EU Single Resolution Fund to be set up next year, and directly recapitalising struggling banks. However they did also question whether Greece's debt is as sustainable as some say - just as they did at Monday's meeting with ECB President Mario Draghi - and pressed Mr Regling for his opinion on the prospects of the other "programme" countries.
Mr Regling conceded that "some form of backstop" would indeed be needed for the Single Resolution Fund, adding that it would be needed permanently and not just until the fund reached its target levels of money. However, he also said that the ESM's current legal setup would not allow it to take on this role. Furthermore, the ESM could pass money on directly to banks only if there was a unanimous decision of the Eurogroup, he added.
Some MEPs argued that there was no legal impairment preventing the ESM from acting as a backstop for the Single Resolution Fund and reiterated the widespread understanding that once the single supervisory system was approved, the ESM could interact directly with banks themselves, thereby severing their links with sovereign lenders.
Mr Regling was positive about the progress being made by the "programme" countries. But he did qualify his comments about Greece, saying that "it was probably a correct assessment that Greece will need more help" by the end of next year. Several MEPs were critical of the work being done by the Troika (EC/ECB/IMF) in Greece, arguing that the private sector was being suffocated and contesting the Troika's claims that the country's debt levels were sustainable.
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In ECON on 24 September, Klaus Regling, the Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism, gave the impression in his exchange of views with ECON Members that State aid rules could require burden-sharing including by senior creditors and depositors in the case of State aid to financial institutions. The Commission has asked the ECON secretariat to make clear that under the new Banking Communication, which entered into force on 1 August 2013, the enhanced burden-sharing required before public recapitalisation concern shareholders and junior creditors only. The Communication explicitly states that under State aid rules the Commission will not require any contribution from senior bondholders and depositors. This Communication may be revised once the bail-in rules in the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive enter into effect.