On 21 June 2012, Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Competition Policy, gave a speech on the State aid perspective of restructuring the banking sector in the EU. In his speech, he shared his views on Europe’s banks based on the experience gathered by the Commission since the introduction of the special State aid rules for the financial sector as a result of the crisis. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Commission has authorised the viability, restructuring or resolution of 46 banks under the special crisis regime, and is still working on over 25 banks. As the Commission tries to implement a more permanent regime, its main aim is to return aided banks to long-term stability. Almunia has found that banks which have been involved in some form of public funding fall under four categories: (1) banks affected by the initial stage of the crisis and now implementing restructuring plans; (2) financial institutions in Greece, Ireland and Portugal where public authorities have more involvement and aim to strengthen macroeconomic and financial stability; (3) cases which are “unfinished business” from the point of view of State aid control, i.e. banks rescued in the early days of crisis but have not yet agreed restructuring plans; and (4) Spanish banks who are ahead of the implementation of the €100bn new capitalisation scheme agreed by the Eurogroup. While work is being done to address issues in the banking sector, Almunia said political breakthroughs are urgently needed in Europe to answer problems affecting the whole of the EU and to lay solid foundations for a truly integrated Economic and Monetary Union in the future. Further bold and far-reaching decisions will have to be made. Read more.