Finance ministers from the European Union’s 27 member states agreed to put up to 200 big banks from the eurozone under the direct supervision of the European Central Bank from spring 2014, according to europeanvoice.com. The deal was reached yesterday morning after 14 hours of talks in Brussels. Single supervision constitutes the first step on the way to a banking union, the subject of a summit of EU leaders that starts later today in Brussels. The deal allows EU leaders to demonstrate unity on the question of how to deepen financial and economic union at the summit.Pierre Moscovici, the French finance minister, said: “This is an accord that creates true bank supervision. Step by step, we are resolving the crisis in the eurozone.” The ECB would have the power to intervene with any bank in the eurozone but would normally only have around 150 systemically important banks under direct supervision, a concession to Germany. A French-German quarrel over the scope of supervision had previously held up agreement. France wanted all eurozone banks to be supervised by the ECB. Cyprus, the current holder of the Council’s rotating presidency, on Monday proposed a compromise under which only banks with more assets worth more than EUR 30 bln or greater than 20 pc of their country’s economy would come under ECB supervision. This reduced the number of banks under direct supervision from more than 6,000 to around 150.While details of the agreement are yet to emerge, it appears that it follows the broad outlines of the Cyprus proposal. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, welcomed the deal, describing it as “a crucial and substantive step towards completion of the banking union”. The agreement between the member states paves the way for negotiations with the European Parliament. MEPs adopted their version of the single banking supervisor on 29 November. Sven Giegold, a German Green MEP who is Parliament’s lead negotiator on banking supervision, said that Parliament would now “have to ensure the final legislation is not riddled with exemptions and loopholes”. “It is essential that any European-level banking supervision is first and foremost European.” Britain, Sweden and other EU member states that do not use the euro as their currency won crucial concessions to ensure they have a say in drafting technical standards that will apply to non-eurozone banks as well. Anders Borg, Sweden’s finance minister, had warned that “we are building a substantial division into the European Union” with the summit plans for deeper economic and monetary union. Eurozone finance ministers met yesterday to discuss the state of Greece’s austerity programme and to unblock the next tranche of Greece’s bail-out money, which the government says it needs to avoid a default.