BRUSSELS, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- European leaders attending the ongoing two-day European Union (EU) summit on Thursday had expected no major breakthrough in establishing a single banking supervisor in Europe.
While several EU nations such as Spain and France, in addition to the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB), argued for putting the new supervision system in place on Jan. 1, Germany and a few other countries have been urging caution.
"We've got to work very fast, but also very thoroughly," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters as she arrived for the meeting.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas also hinted that it might take longer before the supervision system can be established.
Calling the date of Jan. 1 next year "an unnecessarily ambitious date," Necas told reporters on his arrival at the meeting, "We prefer quality ahead of speed. I don't think this should be adopted 'salami style' but rather as a whole package."
Echoing the German and Czech leaders, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said, "It's better to get things right than to rush things."
Speaking before the summit, Reinfeldt said, "These are complicated matters and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered legally."
Building a uniform supervisory body is a crucial step in breaking the vicious circle between sovereign debt and banking crisis. However, many details of the system remain controversial, especially surrounding whether a joint supervisor will be accompanied by a Europe-wide bailout fund to directly recapitalize ailing banks.
Earlier Thursday, Merkel told the German parliament before leaving for the summit, "I want to say very clearly: merely agreeing on the legal procedure for banking supervision is not enough."
The new system must be "effective and independent of national banking supervision" before the 500-billion-euro (655 billion U.S. dollars) European Stability Mechanism could be used for recapitalization, she added.
CAUTION FROM NON-EUROZONE COUNTRIES
Challenges also arise from non-eurozone countries as the ECB, which governs only eurozone member states, is expected to serve a core role in the single supervisory system.
Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen told reporters, "Of course there are some practical challenges still, for instance, how to integrate the non-eurozone countries into the arrangement, and this is very important for Finland."
"We need to create a system in which all the member countries can join," said Katainen.
"It's not a question of one or two days or weeks. The quality of the decision is the most important thing. But we want to move on as fast as we can," he said.
COMMISSIONER REHN'S OPTIMISM
However, the European Commission has sounded optimistic about creating the single supervisory system by the end of this year.
The EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told reporters as he arrived for the meeting, "I believe it is realistic to finish work on the system by the end of the year, it is a matter of political will."
While admitting that "now the political will of member states is tested," Rehn said, "I trust there is the will."
"In fact, if the member states and European Parliament work as intensively in the coming weeks, as the European Commission worked during the summer break, then I am sure this work can be concluded by the end of the year," he added.