MREL: Which are the regulatory requirements?

This piece provides an in-depth exploration of the MREL regulation under the EU's banking sector. Tracing MREL's evolution from its introduction in 2014, it analyzes the significant policy updates and their impact on financial institutions.

MREL: Which are the regulatory requirements?

Grand “Answer”:

The MREL, or Minimum Requirements for own funds and Eligible Liabilities, is a regulatory framework within the European Union that was revised in 2019[2]. This revision involved amendments to the EU Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive 2014/59/EU (BRRD) and Regulation 806[3]. Detailed information about these requirements and their amendments are not provided in the given sources[2]. For in-depth details, it would be best to refer to the full text of the amendments to the EU Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive 2014/59/EU (BRRD) and Regulation 806[3]. Please note that this is an EU regulation and applies to the 27 member states of the European Union [1][2].



MREL - Single Resolution Board


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MREL - A Regulatory Paradigm Shift

Introduced in 2014 under the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), the Minimum Requirement for own funds and Eligible Liabilities (MREL) represented a pivotal change in the regulatory domain for banks operating within the European Union (EU). The MREL, which essentially obligates these financial institutions to maintain a certain degree of capital and debt, is designed as a safety buffer to cushion losses and thereby ensure financial stability in times of economic crisis.

With the financial world in constant flux, the MREL framework has seen several adaptations over the years. One such critical shift was set in motion on January 1, 2022, with the new standards expected to be met by all concerned financial institutions by January 1, 2024. This forthcoming wave of modifications has presented a new set of challenges for the financial institutions within its purview.

The ramifications of these updates to MREL are far-reaching, extending beyond just a regulatory compliance perspective. These changes provide an insight into the overall financial resilience of banks in the face of a potential crisis. Thus, thorough comprehension of these MREL updates, an in-depth analysis of their potential impact, and the identification of possible support measures for banks become paramount. Equipped with this knowledge, banks can deftly navigate through the ever-changing topography of the EU's financial regulatory framework, contributing towards maintaining financial stability within the Union.

MREL - A Regulatory Paradigm Shift
MREL - A Regulatory Paradigm Shift

Evolution of the MREL Regulatory Framework

The birth of the MREL regulation can be traced back to the BRRD (Directive 2014/59/EU). Since then, the framework has undergone various alterations under the watchful eye of the Single Resolution Board (SRB). Established by the EU, the SRB's principal role is to ensure the effective enforcement and continued evolution of the MREL framework.

The first significant policy modifications initiated by the SRB occurred in 2018, whereby the MREL requirements were fine-tuned to better align with the changing financial ecosystem. This was followed by another wave of policy updates, further refining the MREL framework. The overarching aim of these adjustments was to establish a unified set of regulations for banks operating within the EU, harmonizing the MREL framework with the Capital Requirement Regulation (CRR).

The introduction of the Banking Package (BRRD II, CRR II / CRD V) in 2021 marked a turning point in the evolution of the MREL regulation. This package introduced notable alterations to the MREL requirements, including the mandate for banks to maintain minimum levels of own funds and eligible liabilities.

Ever since its inception in 2014, the MREL regulation has been in a state of dynamic evolution, starting as a convoluted regulatory framework with a primary focus on setting minimum capital requirements. Gradually, it expanded its purview to include minimum requirements for own funds and eligible liabilities, primarily targeting globally significant institutions (G-SIIs).

Accompanying this evolution of MREL were significant changes in the definition of eligible liabilities and the methodology for calculating the MREL requirement. These adjustments were tailored according to an institution's classification, thereby morphing the MREL requirement into a flexible framework that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individual financial institutions. In this process, the SRB played a central role, shedding light on the methods for calculating the MREL requirement and calibrating the subordination requirement based on an institution's classification.

MREL: From Theory to Practice

The MREL regulation's implementation phase commenced on January 1, 2022, and by January 1, 2024, all credit institutions and investment firms within the European Union are expected to reach their target levels. This mandate extends to globally significant institutions (G-SIIs), non-EU subsidiaries of G-SIIs, top-tier banks, banks that share characteristics with G-SIIs, and other credit institutions.

The transition towards the 2024 target has been carefully crafted to ensure a smooth progression. This process includes two intermediate deadlines. The first mandatory intermediate target, inclusive of subordination, was due by January 1, 2022. Subsequently, an informative intermediate target has been set for January 1, 2023. These intermediate targets for the transitional period were established by the SRB in early 2021. The transition plan has been meticulously devised to incrementally increase the banking system's capacity to absorb losses and facilitate recapitalization.

Running parallel to the MREL framework is the Total Loss Absorbing Capacity (TLAC), a regulatory mechanism ensuring adequate loss absorption and recapitalization capacity. Both MREL and TLAC serve as foundational pillars for the seamless functioning of the bail-in mechanism. They equip banks with sufficient loss absorption and recapitalization capacity, thereby enhancing financial stability. However, despite their shared objectives, the regulatory frameworks governing MREL and TLAC differ in certain respects, including scope of application, calculation methods, minimum requirements, and eligibility of liabilities.

As we find ourselves in the midst of the implementation phase of the new MREL regulation in 2023, it is crucial to recognize that this regulation signifies a fundamental shift in the EU's banking sector. It incentivizes the banking sector to adhere to robust capital and risk management practices, thereby bolstering financial stability. The forthcoming changes present a test of resilience for the banks. However, with proper preparation and an in-depth understanding of the MREL regulation, financial institutions are well-positioned to navigate these changes effectively.

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